Cape Town - Watching and distributing pornography fuels human trafficking resulting in millions of women and girls around the world being sexually exploited or even killed, says human trafficking activist and South African leader for the international anti-trafficking organisation TraffickingHub, Romita Hanuman-Pillay.
Globally, there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking according to the International Labour Organisation. A quarter of these victims are children.
Hanuman-Pillay says there is an undeniable link between pornography and human trafficking.
“Victims are often trafficked into the pornography industry. Trafficked women and children are shown pornography videos and are told to emulate them,” she said.
Survivors of sex trafficking have reported that they were forced to watch porn as a “training manual” in order to learn what they would be expected to do.
“Not every person on a pornography website is there because they want to be, some are forced into it or taken control of using drugs. Some have their families threatened,” said Hanuman-Pillay.
Her passion for and involvement in anti-trafficking work began in 2018 when she and her husband went on holiday to Phuket, Thailand. While walking down Bangla Road — a popular tourist attraction and red light district — she had an opportunity to speak to one of the women who was dancing on top of the bar at a nightclub.
The woman told Hanuman-Pillay that she wasn’t from the city and was bought to dance at the nightclub. The woman said if she tried to leave, there were men who would kill her family.
“That experience really sobered and humbled me. When I came back home I tried to do as much as I could to see how much trafficking actually goes on within South Africa,” said Hanuman-Pillay.
In September last year, Hanuman-Pillay was involved in the TraffickingHub campaign which gathered over two million signatures from signers from 192 countries around the world. The campaign called for the shutting down of Pornhub for allegedly enabling and profiting from the sex trafficking and rape of women and children.
The Pornhub website averages 42 billion visits every year or 115 million visits per day.
Anti-trafficking expert Laila Mickelwait said in a statement that Pornhub is the largest public collection of sexual exploitation evidence.
“The site is set up for exploitation and is infested with videos of the real rape, trafficking, abuse, and exploitation of women and children. We have significant evidence and it is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mickelwait.
The campaign also launched a captivating video which has gained over 33 million views on various social media networks globally.