Pornography And Human Sex Trafficking Are Inseparably Connected

It’s 2017, and the reality of this digital age is that internet porn is more vast and varied than just about anything else found online. Since Fight the New Drug was started in 2008, it’s become abundantly clear that porn is increasingly becoming more accessible, affordable, and anonymously used, year after year. But what’s the big deal about all of this? Plenty, and we’ll tell you why.

The average porn viewer, likely exposed before the age of 18, has no idea what exactly goes into the production of a single pornographic image or video. They might not even think about how or why a performer got to be on camera. If someone contributed even one, or a substantial amount, of the 23 billion views of the world’s most popular free porn site last year, they probably don’t understand the likelihood that they might be viewing a performer who didn’t appear on film of their own free will.

In other words, viewing a victim of human sex trafficking.

That’s right. Porn and sex trafficking are inseparably linked, and much of society denies this fact. For example, a common misconception held by too many porn viewers was tweeted at us after we posted facts about sex trafficking:

Clearly, too many people are completely blind to the link between porn and sex trafficking, and the fact that one industry fuels the other. Too many think that the porn industry and sex trafficking industry are completely separate issues, one being legitimate and the latter being illegal activity that only happens in developing countries. Absolutely not so. The truth is, porn, prostitution and sex trafficking are more closely linked than the average viewer may realize.

By The Numbers

We live in a world that needs to see hard numbers to legitimize an issue. Unfortunately, since sex trafficking is an underground business, those numbers are hard to come by. But a lot of what we do know about the current state of the industry comes from survivors, and they have a lot to say about how porn was largely connected to or included in their trafficking.

They probably don’t understand the likelihood that they might be viewing a performer who didn’t appear on film of their own free will.

- According to anti-trafficking nonprofit, Rescue:Freedom, in 9 countries, 49% of trafficking survivors said that pornography was made of them while they were in prostitution.

- By some estimates, 4.5 million people are trapped or forced into sexual exploitation globally. (International Labor Organization)

- In one survey, 63% of underage sex trafficking victims said they had been advertised or sold online. (Thorn)

- And 70% of underage trafficking victims say that pornography was made of them while enslaved. (Thorn)

- Sex trafficking is big business—it generates $99 billion annually, just from commercial sexual exploitation alone. (International Labor Organization)

While only 22% of global trafficking victims are trafficked for sex, sexual exploitation earns 66% of the global profits of human trafficking. The average annual profits generated by each woman in forced sexual servitude ($100,000) is estimated to be six times more than the average profits generated by each trafficking victim worldwide ($21,800), according to the ILO.  Studies show that sexual exploitation can yield a return on investment ranging from 100% to 1,000%.

Here’s a real life example. In the Netherlands, investigators were able to calculate the profit generated by two sex traffickers from a number of victims. One trafficker earned $18,148 per month from four victims (for a total of $127,036) while the second trafficker earned $295,786 in the 14 months that three women were sexually exploited according to the OSCE.

Studies show that sexual exploitation can yield a return on investment ranging from 100% to 1,000%.

What does any of this have to do with porn? It means that exploiting vulnerable people for profit in the sex industry is a sure way to make a lot of money. And seeing as the porn industry is worth an estimated $97 billion on its own, it’s clear why many traffickers choose to capitalize on the opportunity.

Take it from an expert. Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, LMSW, Ph.D is the Founding Executive Director for the Wichita State University, Center for Combating Human Trafficking. Watch the trafficking survivor and leading anti-trafficking expert speak out on the clear connection between the porn industry and sex trafficking industry:

Porn Fuels Trafficking, And Vice Versa

This is the reality of what the porn industry fuels: real people being sexually abused and exploited at the hands of family members, traffickers and pimps. Each click to porn content directly fuels the demand for sex traffickers to make money by selling videos of their sex slaves to porn sites. But what about major porn studios and porn sites—aren’t they completely separate from the sex trafficking issue?

Absolutely not.

The more the mainstream adult entertainment industry flourishes, the bigger the opposing globalized black market for porn will become. So the higher the demand for porn, even porn that was produced in professional studios (which, newsflash, also abuse their performers),  the more sex traffickers will want to profit from that lucrative porn demand, and the more they’ll exploit vulnerable people to get there. After all, as we’ve seen from the numbers, it’s big business to do so.

The more the mainstream adult entertainment industry flourishes, the bigger the opposing globalized black market for porn will become.

As an anti-porn organization, this is exactly why we do what we do and why we’re fighting to stop the demand for sexual exploitation. By creating awareness, by educating others on why porn is tangibly harmful to our world, we are creating a movement of change around the world that surely puts a dent in the massive porn industry. Knowledge is power, and being aware of the facts is an important step in decreasing the demand for porn and helping to eliminate sex trafficking.

Written by: Fight the New Drug

About Fight the New Drug: Fight the New Drug is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to educate and raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography and sexual exploitation. We exist to provide individuals, especially teens, with the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness using only science, facts, and personal accounts.