The Asservo Project works hard to investigate human trafficking, but in some cases human trafficking occurs in the most obvious places.
Just north of Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley is known as the pornography capital of the world. “Porn Valley” made the majority of pornography through the early 2000s, and much is still made there today. Its geographical location makes it a convenient pipeline with Hollywood for aspiring, struggling, and even successful actors.
America’s pornography rage began in the San Fernando Valley, but the world has shifted dramatically from theaters, VHS, and DVDs to consumers’ fingertips. Orlando may be dubbed “The Smuttiest City” as the largest consumer of pornography in 2012, but people everywhere view pornography. What viewers may not think about is that they may be watching—and, as a result, exploiting—victims of sex trafficking.
Sexual Exploitation, Pornography, and Human Trafficking
According to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2017 report, more than 4.8 billion people are sexually exploited globally, and THORN’s Survivor Insights found that, of 260 survivors of child sexual exploitation, 75% of them were advertised online. In 2014, the ILO reported sex trafficking is a $99 billion business, totaling about two-thirds of the global profits for forced labor. Similarly, Polaris’s Human Trafficking Hotline reports sex trafficking (7,648 cases) as the leading type of trafficking with a combined sex and labor category ranking fourth (334 cases).
These statistics are about sexual exploitation and human trafficking, especially children. What does sexual exploitation and human trafficking have to do with pornography? The Human Trafficking Hotline identifies pornography (939 cases) as the top-ranked industry for sex trafficking, and the online ads and unknown venues category (447 cases) takes fifth place. Pornography’s industry, like others, preys upon people with some of the same characteristics of trafficking victims.
The Link between Pornography and Sex Trafficking
Like any industry, legitimate or not, human trafficking relies on supply and demand. If there is demand for a product, then business owners produce a supply. From here, value of the product is determined by factors such as the cost of production and the amount of demand for the amount of supply. Viewers of pornography help to create the demand for sex trafficking, and sex trafficking provides supply for pornography.
Pornography Drives Sex Trafficking
Pornography sets the stage for what the customer wants. As Fight the New Drug reports from research, porn viewers can become desensitized toward sexual violence and, as a result, become more willing to purchase sex. A demand to purchase sex drives supply, so much so that sex traffickers can make between one to ten times a trafficker’s investment in trafficking victims.
Sex Trafficking Feeds Pornography
A trafficker can make money by selling videos of their victims to porn sites and porn sites make money by selling the videos to consumers. The more violent the video, the more money can be made from it, and the less likely a willing person would do it.
For instance, a popular website getting millions of views as recently as January 2020 was taken down because of proven sex trafficking claims. GirlsDoPorn tricked young women into thinking that they were getting involved in a modeling video and physically forced their victims to record a pornographic video with them before letting them go. This pattern continued for eleven years before a total of $12.8 million was ordered to be paid back to traumatized victims. Some of the models had become suicidal, however, for no amount of money will undo the life-changing rape and shame from the video of them being posted on the internet.
Stopping the Demand for Sex Trafficking
In essence, sex traffickers profit from pornography viewers in two ways: their trafficking victims are sold for sex acts, and their sex acts are recorded for pornography.
Many people fail to realize the true definition of sex trafficking as it applies to the porn industry. Fight the New Drug explains that even “professional porn performers who are tricked, forced, or coerced into performing a sex act on their ‘no’ list, or having sex with a performer on their ‘no’ list are then—by legal definition—victims of sex trafficking.” With an industry where exploiting victims makes money, the consumer is responsible for making the change. In connection to pornography and human trafficking, read about the relationship between mainstream entertainment industries and human trafficking.
Bar, Noma. (2012, April 16). The smuttiest cities in America. Men’s Health. Retrieved January 13, 2022, from https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19540797/smut-census/.
Fight the New Drug. (n.d.). By the numbers: Is the porn industry connected to sex trafficking? Retrieved December 11, 2021, from https://fightthenewdrug.org/by-the-numbers-porn-sex-trafficking-connected/.
BBC. (2020, January 3). GirlsDoPorn: Young women win legal battle over video con. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50982051.
International Labour Office. (2014). Profits and poverty: The economics of forced labour. International Labour Organization. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/statistics/lang–en/index.htm.
International Labour Organization. (2017, September 19). Global estimates of modern slavery: forced labour and forced marriage. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_575479/lang–en/index.htm.
National Human Trafficking Hotline. (2020, December 31). Hotline statistics. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states.
Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe. (2010, September 30). Analysing the business model of trafficking in human beings to better prevent the crime. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://www.osce.org/secretariat/69028.
THORN. (2022). Survivor insights. Retrieved January 13, 2022, from https://www.thorn.org/survivor-insights/.
Wilkinson, Joseph. (2021, June 15). GirlsDoPorn schemer and actor sentenced to 20 years for sex trafficking. New York Daily News. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-girls-do-porn-sentence-ruben-garcia-sex-trafficking-20210616-lrye27jga5aydmh5hqhepat5mm-story.html.