Before 2020’s nationwide protests began to shake America, before worldwide coronavirus lockdowns changed the way we live, we published a 657-word op-ed in the Washington Examiner.
The piece, written by Exodus Cry’s Director of Abolition Laila Mickelwait, blows the whistle on Pornhub’s exploitative practices and exposes the ways in which the world’s largest porn site enables and profits from content featuring actual rape and sex trafficking.
Immediately after this article released, people began calling for a petition. We created one on Change.org and it quickly went viral. Just four months later, the petition had drawn one million signers from 192 countries, and it continues to grow by thousands every day.
The creation of the Traffickinghub campaign was not the result of clever marketing strategies. It has always been a natural, grassroots response to the revealing of unbelievable injustices, suffered by countless women and girls, perpetuated by one of the most popular websites in the world. This campaign exists because justice-loving people like you have spoken up and given your voice to the fight.
Here is the original op-ed which sparked the global Traffickinghub movement.
Time to Shut Pornhub Down
By Laila Mickelwait
In the last few months, there have been several shocking cases of sex trafficking and child rape films that were hosted on Pornhub. A 15-year-old girl who had been missing for a year was finally found after her mother was tipped off that her daughter was being featured in videos on the site—58 such videos of her rape and sexual abuse were discovered on Pornhub.
Her trafficker, who was seen in the videos raping the child, was identified using surveillance footage of him at a 7-Eleven where he was spotted with his victim. He is now facing a felony charge.
Also in recent news was the case of 22 women who were deceived and coerced by Michael Pratt, owner of GirlsDoPorn, into performing sex acts on film that were subsequently uploaded to Pornhub. These women sued GirlsDoPorn and won a $12.7 million lawsuit against the company.
According to a federal indictment, Pratt and his co-conspirators produced child pornography and trafficked a minor. Pratt reportedly fled the United States for New Zealand and is currently wanted on a federal warrant.
But there are other individuals complicit in these crimes who should also be wanted by law enforcement—CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Marmorstein Tassillo of MindGeek, the Canadian-based company (technically headquartered in Luxembourg for tax purposes) that owns Pornhub.
You see, Pornhub is complicit in the trafficking of these women and minors and probably thousands more like them.
Pornhub is generating millions in advertising and membership revenue with 42 billion visits and 6 million videos uploaded per year. Yet it has no system in place to verify reliably the age or consent of those featured in the pornographic content it hosts.
It is no surprise that Pornhub admitted to verifying the trafficked 15-year-old girl who was raped in 58 videos on its site.
In fact, all that is needed to upload pornography onto Pornhub is an email address. No government-issued ID is required, not even to become “verified” with its trusty blue checkmark that makes everything seem a-OK.
I know this, because I tried it.
It took me under 10 minutes to create a user account and upload blank test content to the site, which went live instantly. I could have then gone on to become Pornhub-verified, and all I would need to do is send a photo of myself holding a paper with my username. That’s it.
It is no surprise that Pornhub admitted to verifying the trafficked 15-year-old girl who was raped in 58 videos on its site. The official Twitter account for Pornhub wrote in response to the breaking story that the 15-year-old girl had been a verified member. After quickly realizing it had just admitted to assisting in her being trafficked, the account deleted the tweets, but the evidence of the admission still exists in this tweet response and in others.
One of the most-searched terms on Pornhub is “teen” pornography. The search will result in videos that are constantly being added faster than any individual could watch them. Many feature girls who look 13 years old at best — girls with braces, pigtails, flat chests, no makeup, extremely young faces, holding teddy bears and licking lollipops, all while being aggressively penetrated. A quick search for the word “teen” turns up titles such as “Young Girl Tricked,” “Innocent Brace Faced Tiny Teen F—ed,” “Tiny Petite Thai Teen,” “Teen Little Girl First Time,” on and on ad infinitum.
Pornhub has no system in place to verify the girls (and I say “girls” because they are not women) in the videos it hosts are not trafficked children being raped on film in order to line the pockets of its executives.
What all of this means is that at this very moment, there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of videos of underage sex trafficking victims on Pornhub. If there could be, I can almost guarantee you there are. We already have evidence, and it is just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s time to shut down super-predator site Pornhub and hold the executive megapimps behind it accountable.
Help us meet our $200K goal! Every dollar you give will help hold Pornhub accountable for enabling and profiting from the rape, sex trafficking, and exploitation of women and minors. Shut. It. Down.