A recent California court case ruled that the operators behind the GirlsDoPorn “brand” have to pay a total of $13 million in damages to women who found ‘that they were tricked into performing in videos that threw their lives off course and led several to attempt suicide’.

Of course, holding the perpetrators of abuse and exploitation to account should always be seen as a positive, but the fact this has to happen at all is a sad reflection on the reality of the porn industry. It should be noted too that the same individuals on trial in the civil case are also facing separate criminal charges for sex-trafficking due to the nature of how they lured and coerced the women into performing.

There is undoubtedly a cognitive dissonance at play here in terms of the public reaction to the case. The media were quick to draw attention to just how terrible this particular case was – and of course, the events here are horrific – but why do the media and consumers of pornography only willingly acknowledge the human rights violations that the porn industry is built on when they are so explicit as to be impossible to ignore?

The fact of the matter is, the events here: trafficking, coercion, abuse and the subsequent psychological and emotional damage this caused the victims, are nothing new within the industry. For years, it has profited off violence and exploitation as well as indirectly profiting from videos depicting victims of sex-trafficking and recently, filmed child sexual exploitation (“child pornography”).

Vice.com recently covered this story with the headline: ‘Girls Do Porn Was a Crime Ring, Not a Porn Site, Industry Experts Say’. This is an interesting distinction to say the least. Firstly, when the biggest ‘porn site’ in the world (Pornhub) is also being skewered in the media for hosting videos of filmed child sexual exploitation, it seems remiss to not also characterise this website as a ‘crime ring’. This perhaps appears to not be criminal enough for so-called ‘industry insiders’.

CEO of Kink.com Alison Boden was Vice’s go-to for comment on this story, and she was quick to ensure there is a very clear “them and us” line drawn between the criminals and the mere profiteers. It doesn’t require any great feats of imagination to understand why the Chief Executive of a website that profits off videos with titles such as ‘Bad Little Bitch’, ‘Brutal Sessions’, ‘Electrosluts’ and ‘Brutally Fucked by Ex’ wants to reinforce the idea that criminality should be reserved only for the very worst acts of exploitation, and not run-of-the-mill actual bodily harm, assault and battery; especially when the latter is obviously swelling the coffers of the same websites.

CEASE UK roundly and vehemently objects to the false distinction drawn between outright criminals such as the GirlsDoPorn operators, and those who “merely” profit from the ignorance of consumers who aren’t aware of the prevalence of criminality in the porn industry. While it may be optimistic to hope that those propagating and profiting off this abuse and exploitation would recognise their hypocrisy, it is ethically redundant for the public at large to object to the trafficking and coercion that took place on GirlsDoPorn, and not also object to this in all its commonplace glory on other websites. The porn industry is built on misogyny, racism, abuse and criminality. It’s time to recognise this and hold it to account across the board.