Protesters Denounce MindGeek’s Pornhub, Alleged Sex Trafficking

Protesters Rally in Support of Victims of Alleged Sex Trafficking

  • Graphic Kayleigh Valentine

Around 75 people gathered outside the Decarie Blvd. offices of MindGeek Sunday afternoon to denounce what many called disgusting practices committed by Pornhub, a company owned by MindGeek.

MindGeek has been accused of aiding sex trafficking and allowing child and revenge porn to stay on its site even after being asked to remove it.

“It is unacceptable and shameful that pornography videos of minors can be found on sites like Pornhub,” said Julie Miville-Dechêne, an independent senator and one of the speakers at the protest.

According to Miville-Dechêne, MindGeek says they will pull videos from circulation if flagged and claim they are improving detection processes. That is not good enough in her opinion. “The consent of each participant is essential, even if it takes more time and is more complicated,” she said.

While Miville-Dechêne said she does not advocate for shutting down Pornhub and sites like it, others in the crowd chanted, “Shut it down.”

Pornhub boasted over 42 billion visits in 2019 according to its year in review, as well as 6.83 million videos uploaded.

Diane Matte, from the Coalition Against Prostitution, has been working with battered women since the 1980s. She said she’s fed up with confronting the same issues and prejudices as in the 1980s, adding we must start listening to what women are saying about the violence they endure.

Another speaker, Maylissa Luby, herself a survivor of exploitation, now helps others as an intervention councillor with La Sortie, a Montreal non-profit that helps women leave the sex industry.

Luby told the crowd about how early the exposure to pornography starts, saying some statistics put it under the age of 12.

She also said over 30 per cent of victims of child pornography are now starting to be recognized in public, complicating their recovery as they try to overcome the abuse and trauma they suffered.

“I see girls and women who have been lured by pimps every day,” she said, adding that sex trafficking has become the second-most common criminal activity in the world. “You can sell a woman’s body over and over again with less penalties than the actual selling of drugs.”

Luby called for the protection of sex trafficking victims, including those on platforms like Pornhub.

Luby also shared the story of a woman who was a victim of revenge porn, whose video was taken down a month after the initial request. In that time it was downloaded and shared across various sites, making it impossible to erase. Even now, a decade later, the video is still in circulation and being shared.

Another survivor, Valérie Pelletier, did not mince words during her quick speech.

She explained how pornography is often used by pimps to show girls what to do, and there is no way for clients of prostitutes or viewers of porn to tell if the woman is consenting to the act.

“Money in any transaction is a coercive factor. I want you to keep that in mind when you have children to feed, and our job as a prostitute or a porn star is to smile and be pleasing. It is by definition our job to turn people on and to pretend,” said Pelletier.

“Pornography is nothing more than prostitution that is being filmed to be sold an infinite number of times,” she said.

Pelletier said in closing “Women are hungry and when they’re hungry it’s not a dick we should be putting in their mouths,”

she asked those gathered to consider, “If the age of entry into prostitution is minor, why would it be different for pornography which is one of the subsets of prostitution?”

Pelletier encouraged the men gathered to talk to their friends and to refuse trips to strip clubs. “When one of your friends wants to go to the strip club, it only takes one to say ‘no, that’s for losers’ to make a difference.”

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