A spotlight on abuse and pornography
A major pornographic site continues to reel from lawsuits and investigations
A group of 40 women filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the parent company of a major pornographic website, claiming it knowingly profited off of a sex trafficking scheme.
The anonymous alleged victims’ $80 million lawsuit against MindGeek accuses the company of hosting videos from GirlsDoPorn on its platform Pornhub despite knowing the site was trafficking women and girls.
MindGeek entered into a partnership with GirlsDoPorn in 2011 and continued to host its videos even after women contacted them telling them they were coerced and asking them to remove content, according to the lawsuit. Federal authorities shut down GirlsDoPorn and arrested the men involved in the site in 2019 after 22 victims filed a separate lawsuit revealing a sex trafficking scheme involving fraud, coercion, sexual assault, and rape. A California state court in January awarded the plaintiffs nearly $13 million in damages.
The lawsuit against MindGeek comes on the heels of other troubles for the Montreal-based company and its website Pornhub. On Dec. 6, a New York Times report detailed Pornhub’s infestation with child abuse and rape. In response, the website implemented a series of new restrictions on Monday, including suspending all unverified videos. It has removed the majority of its videos and says it plans to introduce a new verification system in January.
The scandal prompted lawmakers to introduce legislation to allow victims of exploitation to sue sites like Pornhub. Two major credit card companies—Visa and MasterCard—cut financial ties with the pornographic site. MasterCard said it confirmed the company violated its policy against unlawful content. Visa halted processing of payments while it conducts its own investigation.
Meanwhile, anti-trafficking advocates continued to call for Pornhub to be shut down permanently.
“Pornhub cannot sanitize the fact that its audience wants abuse material by simply erasing some videos with a flip of a switch,” the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said in a statement. “The reality of the matter is that mainstream pornography goes hand-in-hand with content involving children, rape, incest, racism, and extreme violence against women.”
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