Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Illicit opportunism

Family | Pornhub tries to snare consumers during pandemic
by Mary Jackson
Posted 3/20/20, 04:22 pm

Pornhub is trying to lure Europeans quarantined for the coronavirus into streaming its pornographic videos, some of which contain trafficked children and adults and rapes. The internet’s largest pornography website offered users in France, Italy, and Spain free one-month subscriptions to its “premium” content.

The clearinghouse for user-generated pornography framed its free access during the COVID-19 crisis as an act of charity. But Laila Mickelwait of the anti-trafficking group Exodus Cry called it “mass exploitation for the purpose of pleasure and profit.”

Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, charged Pornhub with “shamelessly leveraging” the pandemic for its bottom line. She said enabling more people to access its abusive and exploitative material will only cause “increased sexual violence and abuse against untold numbers of adults and children.”

Pornographers uploaded more than 6 million new videos to Pornhub last year, according to data from the website’s parent company, MindGeek. The site has no system in place to verify the age or consent of those featured in its content. “Kids are two clicks away from watching real child trafficking and rape,” Mickelwait warned.

Last month, Mickelwait penned a chilling column about Pornhub’s easy access: It took her less than 10 minutes to create a user account and upload blank test content that went live immediately. The site has had multiple reports of content portraying sexual violence against women and children. In one case, authorities found a missing 15-year-old South Florida girl after her mother learned she appeared in 58 Pornhub videos. Officials identified her trafficker on a convenience store surveillance camera and pressed felony charges.

Many women and underage girls have complained sex traffickers forced them to perform in content posted on the site. An investigation by the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times in November uncovered dozens of illegal videos of child sexual exploitation within minutes. That same month, PayPal and Unilever cut ties with the website.

In February, Mickelwait started a petition to shut down Pornhub. It has attracted more than half a million signatures and bipartisan support from lawmakers in the United States and Canada.

“Pornhub must not escape scrutiny,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., wrote in a letter last week to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Sasse called on the Department of Justice to investigate Pornhub and MindGeek for involvement in a “disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking.”

Other lawmakers, including Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also called for investigations into Pornhub. In Canada, a group of lawmakers sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week asking for further scrutiny of the site.

Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta (file) Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta (file) Military members who identify as transgender testify before a House subcommittee on Capitol Hill in February 2019.

Challenging the rules

A male U.S. Navy officer who faces involuntary discharge for attempting to identify as a woman during military service filed the first lawsuit on Tuesday against a policy on transgenderism in the U.S. armed forces.

The rule, which went into effect in April 2019, repealed an Obama administration mandate allowing members of the military to serve as the opposite sex and receive healthcare coverage for cross-sex hormones and sex-change surgeries. Now service members must represent themselves as their biological sex unless they began the transition before the new rules took effect. People who have attempted to change their sex may not enlist, and active military members who begin identifying as transgender or seek to transition face discharge.

The male officer, stationed in Massachusetts and named “Lt. Doe” in the lawsuit, wants to serve in the Navy as a woman. Lawyers say doctors diagnosed the officer with gender dysphoria two months after the new policy took effect.

Four previous lawsuits against the policy are still pending in court and expected to go to trial. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year the policy could take effect while those cases continued. In June 2019, Kelly Laco, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, told Reuters the government intends to defend the Pentagon’s right to “continue implementing a personnel policy it determined necessary to best defend our nation.” —M.J.

Associated Press/Photo by Francois Mori Associated Press/Photo by Francois Mori The Courthouse of Saintes in France

Looking down in shame

A retired surgeon accused of sexually abusing as many as 349 young children over decades is on trial in one of the worst known sex abuse cases in France.

The trial began last Friday in Saintes and involves four alleged victims of Joel Le Scouarnec, 69. Investigators uncovered thousands of images of child pornography in his home and extensive notebooks in which he detailed sexual violence against girls and boys from 1989 to 2017. Prosecutors questioned 229 people named in the notebooks and found 349 potential victims. By this month, 200 had filed complaints, but some incidents occurred too long ago to prosecute.

The judge closed proceedings to the public at the request of defense lawyers, a move that angered the families of the victims. One victim’s father attending the trial said the doctor “did not look at the victims. When I looked him in the eye, he looked down.” —M.J.

Associated Press/Photo by Keith Ridler (file) Associated Press/Photo by Keith Ridler (file) The Idaho House of Representatives debates legislation in the statehouse in Boise.

Legislative update

Two bills in Idaho addressing biological sex and transgenderism are headed to the governor’s desk this week after clearing the state Senate. One measure would protect girls and women from competing against male athletes who identify as female. The other bars people from altering the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Opponents of both bills warn the state will incur court challenges and massive legal fees if Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, signs them into law. A federal judge scrapped an earlier state law against transgender people changing their birth certificates in 2018, citing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Idaho lawmakers believe maintaining accurate birth certificates and protecting women’s sports are worth potential legal fights.

“I think we all understand what the costs and what the risks are in making the decision to go forward,” state Sen. Jim Rice, a Republican, said. —M.J.

Mary Jackson

Mary is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute mid-career course and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and four children. Follow Mary on Twitter @mbjackson77

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Comments

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  • NEWS2ME
    Posted: Sat, 03/21/2020 05:01 pm

    I hope Idaho stays the course. 

    Females should not have to compete against males who now call themselves females.

    Putting female clothes on is one thing, it's personal, but biological males competing as females is crossing the line AGAINST females.

     

     

  • NEWS2ME
    Posted: Sat, 03/21/2020 05:08 pm

    That those places on the web are known and nothing is being done is very scary.

    A reporter can find them, but not the police? Does that mean the police are involved?

  • NEWS2ME
    Posted: Sat, 03/21/2020 05:13 pm

    Re homosexuals

    Will someone sue the health industry someday because there is conflicting information about a person's biological sex in the system thereby causing a healthcare person hesitation in administering the correct diagnosis? Aren't there drugs that might work differently for a male as for a female? 

     

  • Laura W
    Posted: Wed, 03/25/2020 01:18 pm

    Yes, and all sorts of health conditions that are more likely in one or the other. I saw there's already been at least one case where doctors didn't diagnose pregnancy quickly enough to help the patient because the patient was listed as and presented as male.

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