Friday 2nd October is International Day of Non-Violence, and to mark it, CEASE are proud to be leading the UK #Traffickinghub protest outside the UK offices of Mindgeek, the conglomerate owner behind PornHub, a website that happily and readily proliferates and profits from videos and images of extreme violence, abuse, and rape.

The event, which will be fully Covid-secure, will see survivors, campaigners, activists, and organisations join forces to let Mindgeek know that their time is running out. #Traffickinghub, a grassroots campaign started in February by Laila Mickelwait and Exodus Cry, now has over 2 million supporters and the backing of 300 child protection, anti-trafficking and womens’ rights organisations worldwide.On 2nd October sister campaigns will be taking place in LA and Montreal.

For many, Mindgeek may not be a name they have ever heard before. This is entirely understandable. For a company that owns one of the most popular porn websites in the world, they keep a remarkably low profile, and there is no mention of “Pornhub” or anything related to “adult” content on their website, despite advertising the fact that their “properties” receive over 115 million daily visitors. Presumably it is a coincidence that Pornhub also advertises the same figure in their annual review? Perhaps not…

The protest taking place on the 2nd October is to bring the fight to Mindgeek’s doorstep – literally – and to shine a light on a company shrouded in secrecy and cloak-and-dagger tactics. The #TraffickingHub campaign highlights that this company has built its brand by trading in images of child abuse, rape, and victims of trafficking being forced to engage in sex acts while somebody points a camera at them.

But the purpose of the protests is not simply to expose Mindgeek for their involvement in this activity, but to raise awareness of the reality of the porn industry today. For many, porn is assumed to be a harmless “bit of fun” for adults to either watch or produce. But the old “magazine-under-the-bed” trope could not be further from the truth.

Research shows that nearly 90% of porn contains some form of violence against women, namely physical and verbal abuse. And this violence does not just exist in a vacuum. There is extensive research demonstrating that watching porn alters your sexual tastes, and makes people more sympathetic towards – and prone to – violence against women, which isn’t confined to immediate relationships, but also has a propensity to feed into other forms of commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution; and this is happening at an increasingly young age.

Not only is the content exponentially more violent and degrading than it was several decades ago, but research demonstrates that now children as young as seven years old are able to access porn sites that have this material on the front page. This is a disaster playing out in front of our eyes. When children are in their most formative years, they are accessing material that is emotionally and psychologically damaging to them, with reported reactions such as “shame”, “shock”, “scared”, and “confused” upon viewing.

Further, young women are reporting sky-rocketing rates of sexual violence taking place in otherwise consensual relationships, which has tragically resulted in a number of deaths; and men are reporting endemic rates of depression, anxiety, and erectile dysfunction which are all heavily linked to porn consumption.

This is why we are taking the fight to MindGeek. No longer can they hide behind a veil of mystery, distancing themselves from the exploitation and abuse of women and children across the world. No longer can they claim to be taking active steps to fight the exploitation that occurs because of their business model, not in spite of it. No longer can they act free from scrutiny or consequences.

Join us in the fight against this unaccountable conglomerate that is damaging the well-being of men, women, and children across the world, and profiting from the rape and abuse of others. Sign the petition here. Join the protest here. *

*Given the current Covid environment, many will prefer to protest online rather than in person. Join the Traffickinghub London Virtual Protest here.