Visa rightly cut ties with Pornhub in 2020 after public outcry regarding the rampant sex trafficking and abuse videos on the porn website and an expose in The New York Times that revealed countless people have had sex trafficked, child abuse, or non-consensually shared videos uploaded to the website Pornhub, and other sites like it. Visa also banned “some transactions” on the Xvideos website after the Czech Republic government began investigating the company for similar problems. For these reasons Visa has been removed from the Dirty Dozen List for 2021.
However, Visa has intentionally re-initiated a relationship with Mindgeek (the owner of Pornhub) and other pornography websites so long as they only published “professional” videos. This action legitimizes an inherently exploitive industry that is rife with force, fraud, and coercion within the so-called “professional” sector as well. Further, Visa process payments for brothels, a sugar dating website, and OnlyFans the subscription pornography platform—which is why Visa has been named to the 2021 Dirty Dozen Watch List. It’s time for Visa to cut ties with sexually exploitive industries for good.
While we have reached out to numerous credit card companies on similar issues, we have placed Visa alone on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List because it is a credit card network with one of the largest market shares that is processing payments for pornography with themes of sexual violence, racism, incest, and the fetishization of minors, brothels, pseduo-relationship prostitution and more.
Visa is normalizing the predatory pornography industry by processing payments for it, despite its sexually exploitive nature including harm to performers, sex trafficking victims, and even large-scale public health.
The pornography industry is not “just another industry.”
Visa’s claims to now only process pornography for professional studio-produced porn does not mean they are processing payments for non-exploitive content. Abuse and trauma still occur within the studio-produced pornography industry. High-profile pornography producers have been accused of and even convicted of sex trafficking performers.
Research is also clear that the pornography industry inflicts both physical and mental trauma on performers.
A 2011 study found, “Female adult film performers have significantly worse mental health and higher rates of depression than other California women of similar ages.”
Another study reported that pornography performers experience physical trauma on the film set, often leave the industry with financial insecurity and mental health problems, and also experience health risks that aren’t limited to sexually transmitted diseases.
Further, the pornography industry is not set up to protect performers it is set up to make money no matter the cost and harm. The pornography industry has actively lobbied against protections meant to ensure children and minors are not used in mainstream pornography. It has also lobbied against common-sense protections to performers’ physical and sexual health, despite the fact that research has found that pornography performers have a ‘high burden’ of sexually transmitted disease. This burden includes and extends well beyond the risk of HIV infection.
BROTHELS AND ONLINE PROSTITUTION
Visa also processes payments for brothels operating in Nevada, despite the fact that prostitution causes physical and psychological trauma that cannot be regulated away even within a legal system. Further, audits have found that a significant number of sex trafficking victims are still being sex trafficked into these brothels—which means Visa is helping facilitate that transaction. (You can learn more about Nevada which is placed on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List here.)
And Visa is processing payments for Seeking Arrangement, a “sugar dating” pseudo-relationship prostitution platform that targets college students and people suffering from the economic uncertainty of COVID-19 to be sexually used by wealthier, older men. Research shows that sugar dating should fall under the definition of prostitution, and so Visa is facilitating payments that not only cause harm but also legally dubious at minimum. (You can learn more about Seeking Arrangement which is placed on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List here.)
And finally, Visa is processing payments for OnlyFans, a subscription site where “fans” pay a monthly membership fee and tips to see a “content creator’s” videos. This site is known to be primarily used to sell people for prostitution and pornography: and has profited from the deepening economic vulnerabilities – especially among women – during the pandemic. The owner, Leonid Radvinsky, owns other large pornography webcamming websites, and so clearly it seems that the platform’s intention is to facilitate commercial sex acts online. OnlyFans has insufficient verification measures for age or consent—meaning it is highly likely that child sexual abuse materials and sex trafficked persons are being exploited on the platform. An increasing number of reports show evidence of minors on the site, and, tragically, cases of people being sex trafficked for the purpose of pornographic content on OnlyFans have begun to surface as well. Experts – including law enforcement – are hailing it as the new backpage.com, which, as you know what shuttered for facilitating sex trafficking. (You can learn more about OnlyFans which is placed on the 2021 Dirty Dozen List here.)
Visa needs to cut ties with the pornography industry, brothels, and sugar dating websites in order to avoid facilitating sexual exploitation and abuse.
Take Action.@Visa thank you for cutting ties with Pornhub! Now please stop processing payments for other porn sites, which also portray sexual violence and abuse. Click To Tweet It's time for @Visa to stop processing payments for sexual exploitation, including the pornography industry, sugar dating websites, and brothels. Click To Tweet .@Visa cannot be an ethical company while partnering with the sexually exploitive, dehumanizing porn industry, particularly considering recent cases of sex trafficking and abuse within the industry. Click To Tweet
Credit and Debit Card Executives Must End Their Companies’ Involvement in Sexual Exploitation
Payment processing companies must stop processing payments for the pornography industry!
This easy-to-use Action will allow you to send emails directly to executives at the world’s leading payment processing companies and demand that they end their companies’ involvement in sexual exploitation.
Companies like Visa monitor their social media closely and care about their online reputations. Speak out on twitter, tag @Visa, or send one of these pre-written tweets with one click.
Protected: Stay updated on these projects
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…
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[UPDATE – 12/15/2020] The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) received confirmation from Visa executives on December 15, 2020, that that their “financial institution partners who serve MindGeek have suspended processing of Visa payments for Pornhub and its affiliated merchants pending completion of [Visa’s] on-going investigation.” NCOSE has not yet heard back from Mastercard. It…
With Visa and Mastercard’s closely-spaced announcements about cutting ties with Pornhub (Visa’s technically only committed to suspending payment processing for Pornhub pending an outcome in Visa’s own investigation) on December 10, 2020, the façade of impunity surrounding MindGeek’s internationally known and inherently exploitative cash cow has begun crumbling in earnest. Visa and Mastercard have made…
Share Your Story
It can be painful to share stories of sexual exploitation or harm, and sometimes it’s useful to focus on personal healing first. But for many, sharing their past or current experiences may be a restorative and liberating process. This is a place for those who want to express their story.