This week, the #TraffickingHub campaign petition urging the public to ditch Pornhub for good is nearing 2 million signatures. This is a phenomenal achievement by all involved, and goes to show that awareness of the criminality, exploitation, abuse, and rape that Pornhub – and by extension its parent company Mindgeek – is involved in is not simply a fringe issue, but one that citizens of over 150 countries across the globe are active in fighting against.
Here at CEASE, we have covered the abhorrent sexual exploitation facilitated by the world’s biggest porn site in previous blog posts, and it is clear from the extraordinary work done by the team behind #TraffickingHub that this problem is not going away any time soon. It is easy to feel helpless when faced with such a huge problem, but the joining together of voices and organisations from across the world shows that we are stronger together. So what can we do here in the UK?
In late-2019, the UK Government surreptitiously shelved their plans to implement age verification technology that would have placed a barrier between children under 18 and hardcore porn, which often contains rape and sexual abuse of women and children, as well as physical violence and scenes of degradation.
It is worth noting that age verification already exists on gambling websites, and age restrictions already apply across a multitude of other sites, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. However, the prevalence and ubiquity of porn in society means that the attempt to introduce user safeguards was much maligned and incorrectly dubbed a “porn ban” by the media. This didn’t do any favours for what was already viewed cynically as a wholesale restriction on access to porn.
But, this is not the end of the battle. Just as the #TraffickingHub campaign has remained stoic in the face of false and defamatory accusations by Pornhub in an attempt to discredit the movement, here in the UK we too have an opportunity to continue this fight. While age verification wasn’t implemented in its at-the-time form, it has been subsumed into the upcoming Online Harms Bill, with a view to introducing measures that will keep users safe online, which includes accessing porn sites.
We urge all our readers and followers to grab this opportunity with both hands: write to your MPs and local representatives to raise awareness of the criminality, sexual exploitation and abuse that’s replete within the porn industry, which monetises and normalises male violence against women. This will mean that when the time comes for scrutiny of this Bill, those in positions of power are properly informed.
Writing to your MP is simple: just enter your postcode on this website to find your local representative, and then click “send message” to raise an issue with them. While the Government should be applauded for taking steps to consider the harms of the porn industry in their upcoming legislation, it is doubtful that many MPs fully understand know the true extent of the horrors of today’s online pornography, which children as young as seven years of age are able to access.
As the #TraffickingHub campaign shows, things are only just getting started. Will you get involved and play a part in bringing down one of the world’s biggest platforms of sexual violence and exploitation? There has never been a better opportunity.