Epstein survivor's fight to ban Pornhub

JEFFREY Epstein survivor Victoria Giuffre has joined the fight to shut down Pornhub for its alleged role in fuelling sex trafficking.

Shortly before the arrest alleged Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell last week, Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Cairns, tweeted her support for a petition to close the video sharing site.

The campaign to hold Pornhub to account for allegedly profiting from rape and sexual trafficking has gathered momentum during the pandemic - in one week an animated video by campaigners traffickinghub.com has racked up more than 15 million views on Instagram, more than 83,000 views on YouTube and more than 366,000 views on Facebook.

The correlation between pornography and domestic violence has been researched for nearly a decade; one Far Northern woman, Rose, said her abusive partner had a long standing addiction to pornography.

He was always watching it on his phone," Rose said.

"Every time I confronted him, he beat me up."

She said there was a "definite" link between her husband's porn addiction and the horrific violence she was subjected to.

During the pandemic, Pornhub had offered its Premium service for free, marketing the offer as a public service to "help flatten the curve."

In a statement made in March this year, Pornhub owners Mindgeek stated that the site had a "steadfast commitment to eradicating and fighting non consensual content and under age material."

Visits to erotic and porn websites have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Visits to erotic and porn websites have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

But traffickinghub.com has posted increasing numbers of stories from women who allege their rapes had been uploaded to the site and marketed as fantasy videos.

In February the BBC reported the case of a 14 year old girl who was raped by two men and discovered the sex crime had been uploaded to Pornhub in 2009.

After six months of emailing Mindgeek she succeeded in having the videos removed after posing as a lawyer and threatening legal action.

A study affiliated with the University of Arkanas and archived in the National Library of Medicine examined popular pornographic videos for depictions of violence.

"Of the 304 scenes analysed, 88.2% contained physical aggression, principally spanking, gagging, and slapping, while 48.7% of scenes contained verbal aggression, primarily name-calling," the authors found.

"Perpetrators of aggression were usually male, whereas targets of aggression were overwhelmingly female. Targets most often showed pleasure or responded neutrally to the aggression."

Virginia Roberts Giuffre is campaigning against Pornhub.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre is campaigning against Pornhub.

These findings, and numerous similar academic papers, lend weight to the argument that despite Pornhub's marketing to the contrary, its content is inherently violent because it fosters misogyny among its viewers.

"When porn shows victims of violence who seem to accept or enjoy being hurt, the viewer is fed the message that people like to be treated that way, giving porn consumers a sense that it's okay to act aggressively themselves," a report by charity fightthenewdrug.org found.

The effects have also been felt in the Far North, with the Youth and Sexual Violence and Abuse Steering Committee in 2017 linking sexual violence in Queensland to the consumption of pornography.

"Studies have shown that viewing violent pornography, which is now increasingly accessible, including to children due to advances in technology, can have negative effects on the thoughts, attitudes and behaviours of people who view it," the committee found.

Mindgeek has been asked for comment.

Originally published as Cairns woman's fight to ban Pornhub