How Pornography Impacts Sex Trafficking

Note: The purpose of this post is not to convince the reader that pornography impacts sex trafficking. There are plenty of well-written and well-argued articles about that, and the answer to the question is settled: pornography does in fact fuel sex trafficking. That being said, the purpose of this post is to equip the reader on how to convey this truth to people who are less prone to know it.

If you find yourself talking to someone about human trafficking and get on the subject of pornography, you’ll quickly realize there are two types of people in the world: those that think pornography is harmful, degrading, and directly related to sex trafficking, and those that don’t. 

It is important to affirm those who see this dark connection, but perhaps it is more important to engage with the opposition and/or ignorance of the opposer. Here are two things to consider when discussing the topic.

1. Define sex trafficking and pornography

Words are powerful—they convey our ideas, beliefs, and values. Yet lack of mutually defined words and terms obstruct conversations about values, beliefs, and ideas. For example, everyone says they want to “help” others, but how they want to help—how they define “help”—makes all the difference. 

What do the terms sex trafficking and pornography actually mean? Determining any connection between the two requires agreement on the terms. It’s useless to run a race with others if you haven’t agreed on where the finish line is. 

Sex trafficking is the act of using force, fraud, or coercion to sexually exploit someone for your own benefit. It’s terrible. Vile. Repulsive. But what is pornography?

Pornography is sexually exploiting someone for your own benefit. Exploiting might seem like a harsh word, but it’s true: it’s benefiting from someone else in an unfair or selfish way. A good deal of pornography is made using trafficked victims (which is certainly unfair), and even if between “consensual” participants (how can you even tell the difference?), it is simply selfish. By consuming pornography, the viewer is in no way giving anything, but simply taking everything—and often for free.

But as we all know, nothing is free. When someone looks at pornography for free, someone else is paying for it. The question is: who is paying for it? And sadly the answer to that question leads us back to sexual exploitation.

2. Discuss the Demand

Why do people make movies? Because people watch them. If no one watched movies, people wouldn’t keep making movies. People make movies because people watch movies. Increasing the demand increases the supply. 

People make pornography because people watch pornography. 

If someone is watching pornography, they are fueling (or indirectly making) pornography. Since pornography is closely tied to sex trafficking (and sometimes literaly is sex trafficking), then a viewer is fueling the demand for sex trafficking by looking at pornography. As a prominent anti-pornography organization, Fight the New Drug, put it:

“Modern sex trafficking shares a variety of symbiotic connections to pornography. Often they’re one and the same. You can hate a thing. You can be outraged by it. But if you continue to sustain and engage with the industry that helps give it life, what is your outrage worth? Make it count, be a voice against modern-day slavery. Be a voice against sexual exploitation and stop the demand for sex trafficking through pornography.”

Truly there are many ways to fight against sex trafficking, but perhaps one of the most powerful and often overlooked ways to do this is to stop the demand. The less people there are that selfishly demand pleasure at the expense of others’ freedom and dignity, the less we’ll see of sex trafficking and pornography. 

Stopping the demand means educating others on the harmful effects of pornography and its tie to sex trafficking. Greenlight Operation offers age appropriate education and trainings at schools, churches, clubs, events, or other community gatherings. If you would like to schedule a speaking engagement or training event please go to https://www.greenlightoperation.org/education-awareness.

Ben BylerComment