One woman has made it her mission to bring down a website that gets 42 billion views annually. Her reason? The popular site is complicit in hundreds of cases of sex trafficking and child rape.
In her pursuit to uphold the dignity of women and young girls, Laila Mickelwait is leading the charge to end sexual exploitation through sites such as PornHub.
Who Is Laila Mickelwait?
Laila Mickelwait is the Director of Abolition for Exodus Cry, an international nonprofit that works both to end sex trafficking and to support its many victims. A graduate from the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, Laila has advocated for legislative reform across the globe, including the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped develop and propose to Congress The Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act, which would impose more stringent prostitution laws.
On February 10, Laila released a petition created on Change.org to shut down PornHub and to hold its executives accountable for such crimes.
Recently, she began speaking out against the porn industry and its ties to (and profit from) countless cases of sex trafficking and child abuse. On February 10, she released a petition created on Change.org to shut down PornHub and to hold its executives accountable for such crimes. The petition has now garnered over half of its desired 500,000 signatures.
The Problem(s) with PornHub
All too often, the “performers” in pornographic content have not freely offered their consent. They have been trafficked or coerced and subsequently raped on camera. Such brutal crimes are made even more widespread by sites like PornHub, which has no reliable way to verify the legality of its content (all it takes is an email address to upload content). In 2018, a teenage girl in Florida went missing. She was found a year later because police were able to identify her and her kidnapper in content on PornHub. The fifteen-year-old had been verified by PornHub, so the 58 images and videos were easily uploaded to and spread on the site. The process to receive the verified check-mark is too easy (just send in a picture of you holding your username on a piece of paper), enabling tragic cases such as this.
PornHub was also involved in a scandal in October 2019 when twenty-two women sued the owners of their channel, GirlsDoPorn, for coercing them into filming content. Though the site removed the channel in the aftermath of the lawsuit, the videos are still readily available through PornHub’s main site. The women involved in the GirlsDoPorn videos have thus been unable to truly have the content deleted. The owner of GirlsDoPorn, Michael Pratt, was charged with committing multiple sex trafficking crimes - including trafficking and raping a minor. He has fled to New Zealand and is currently a wanted fugitive.
This disturbing access to and demand for videos of child abuse should be reason enough to shut the site down.
PornHub is home to an extensive cache of teen porn. Mickelwait, in an interview with 10 Daily, noted that “teen porn” is consistently in the top ten searches on the site. This disturbing access to and demand for videos of child abuse should be reason enough to shut the site down. Replete with illegal content, PornHub exploits not only coerced women but also innocent minors.
It’s heartening to see that one woman can start something as revolutionary as a movement to fight against Big Porn. If you feel compelled to help Laila in this endeavor, you can sign her petition here. Regardless of your views on pornography, it’s clear that PornHub cares more about money than the safety of young women and girls.
In order to help the victims of PornHub’s crimes and to prevent further crimes, the site either needs to impose greater regulations or be shut down on the basis of its complicity in illegal activity. To allow business to proceed as usual would mean more preying upon young girls, sex trafficking crimes, and disregard for the true beauty and humanity of females everywhere.