Paypal recently withdrew their service provision to major porn provider PornHub, citing the fact the site had ‘made certain business payments through PayPal without seeking our permission’. While it should be acknowledged that financial penalties and restrictions for international conglomerates such as Mindgeek (and by extension, Pornhub, whom they own) are a positive step in regulating what is, at the moment, an almost entirely-unregulated industry based on abuse and violence, it undoubtedly requires a nuanced approach when campaigning for further regulation and change.

There are certainly no tears being shed for Mindgeek’s loss of profits, but, as they themselves note: “(we are) devastated by PayPal’s decision to stop payouts to over a hundred thousand performers who rely on them for their livelihoods”.

Due to the  nature of Pornhub’s business model, performers have come to rely on unstable income streams, often dependent upon doing increasingly-exploitative acts, to make any profit from their content. Ignoring for a moment the sexual exploitation that is rife in vast swathes of pornographic content, it certainly does not seem fair to further penalise financially dependent and, often, economically impoverished individuals for a situation that has been forced upon them.

Mindgeek operate as a shadowy, unregulated international corporation that has a monopoly on the current industry, which means piecemeal efforts by companies such as Paypal fail to get to grips with the real issues. Compounding this, Paypal’s objection appears to be rooted in a copyright-esque dispute over software use without prior permission, as opposed to wanting to distance themselves from websites that propagate and profit off abuse and exploitation.

CEASE is calling on brands and companies all across the world to sever ties with any and all Mindgeek-affiliated websites, and to recognise they have a corporate social responsibility in ensuring they do not profit off exploitation.

But this must be dealt with at a governmental level too. It is simply not fair to shift the burden onto performers who are often economically dependent and, in many cases, trapped into systems of exploitation. Much like an abolitionist approach to prostitution; striving to abolish an industry based on the commodification of women’s bodies does not entail a lack of exit-route provision, but the opposite. We need to ensure that as we start to get to grips with these exploitative industries and ultimately fight to end their hold on society, we also support those who want to exit, but due to financial dependence, they cannot. CEASE recognises this, and it’s time the government does too.

Sign our petition to PayPal here