March 25, 2021

Studio-Produced Pornography Can Still be Sex Trafficking—Take Action and Help Visa Understand

In late 2020, following the publication of the New York Times article which brought awareness of Pornhub’s abusive practices into mainstream media, Visa rightly decided to stop processing credit card payments for the Pornhub site. NCOSE applauded Visa’s action at the time, and still does. However, we were disappointed to learn shortly afterwards that Visa had decided to continue processing payments for other MindGeek sites which hosted studio-produced pornography.

This is concerning to us for two main reasons:

  1. MindGeek is the parent company of Pornhub, and is thus responsible for their crimes.
  2. Studio-produced pornography is not free of coercion and abuse.  

It is first important to understand the corporate structure behind Pornhub. Pornhub is only one of many pornography sites owned and managed by the company MindGeek. 

It is MindGeek that is responsible for Pornhub’s abusive practices, and it is MindGeek executives that profit from these abuses. 

Therefore, by processing payments for other MindGeek sites, Visa is continuing to fuel and finance an exploitative company. If Visa truly wishes to disassociate itself with the abuses happening on Pornhub, it would need to cut financial ties with all MindGeek entities—which is exactly what NCOSE is urging Visa to do

The second problem with Visa’s decision is the misunderstanding it demonstrates with respect to when, where, and how abuse occurs in the pornography industry. Visa’s assumption seems to be “professionally” studio produced pornography is free of abusive and/or illegal practices. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Much of the abusive content discovered on Pornhub was in fact produced professionally. For example, GirlsDoPorn was a “professional” pornography company and a verified channel on Pornhub. It had documentation which supposedly verified the consent and age of their “performers”. As was later discovered, however, the GirlsDoPorn owners and employees regularly coerced, tricked, and blackmailed women into appearing in their videos. They would pressure women into signing contracts without reading them, would promise them the videos would not be posted online, would force them to do sex-acts they had previously declined to do, and more. Thankfully, GirlsDoPorn’s abusive practices were eventually exposed.

But how many other professional pornography companies are using similar tactics? We know that GirlsDoPorn is not an isolated case; there have been other recent examples, both on and off MindGeek sites—including a case of a famous French pornography website, and a mainstream Czech Republic pornography website who are both being investigated for rape and sex trafficking for the production of pornography. 

It is for all these reasons that NCOSE is urging Visa to completely cut ties with the MindGeek empire, and other pornography websites, not merely with the Pornhub site.

Join your voice with ours: email Visa to express your concern, and share about this issue on Social Media.

Further Reading