Does Porn Fuel Sex Trafficking?


Sex trafficking and pornography are related. However, many people assume they are two different issues. In fact, you can rarely find leaders, politicians, and media outlets saying that porn and sex trafficking are related. Why is that?

Today, I want to explain why and the facts that support this position. 

What is sex trafficking? Sex trafficking is officially defined as a “modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.” That means any instance in which the individual was forced, tricked, or pressured. This includes but is not limited to: on-screen, massage parlors, or prostitution. 

How many people are sex trafficked? The U.S. State Department estimates 50,000 women and girls are brought into the United States each year. 

On top of this number, a Global Times article estimates that 100,000 U.S citizens are either coerced, tricked, pressured, or forced into trafficking. 

This brings the total of 150,000 people are sex trafficked each year within the United States, 67% of them being American citizens. 

While many think that sex trafficking is mostly a problem primarily in developing countries, the truth is that tens of thousands of victims are citizens right here in the United States. 

From what we can see, sex trafficking continues to be on the rise. The Polaris Project (a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent sex and labor trafficking in North America) saw a 20% increase in people contacting their hotline between 2018 and 2019. This increase from one year to another is a continuing trend. In total, the Polaris Project has collected data from over 22,326 survivors, providing insight into the systems and tactics that traffickers use to conduct their businesses. (You can see the full report by clicking here.)

How does pornography fuel sex trafficking?

The simple fact is that pornography is highly addictive and progressive. Dr Donad Hilton from the American board of neurology is quoted as saying, “Pornopgrahy is as addictive as heroin and cocaine.” Because of the addictive nature, porn very often results in an escalating behavior. The addictive nature drives the addict to seek more frequent, more risky, and more radical porn and often the addiction advances to the point that images are not enough. Physically seeing sexual pleasure is often the next step. Namely prostitution or illicit massage parlors. Hence the explosion of both. Its simple supply to meet demand. 

Along with the iPhone and high-speed internet, the following happened: 

A dramatic increase in massage parlors: In the first ten years since the iPhone was introduced and high speed internet streaming video came onto the scene, pornography exploded. Alongside, the number of massage parlors increased by over 400%

The NY Post reported over 600 illegal sex houses in NY City alone! 

There are an estimated 9,000 illicit massage parlors in the United States. Many house trafficking victims. These are full service whore houses that many people thought were only found in Nevada, outside Las Vegas and Reno

A dramatic increase in prositution: In 2016, it was reported that there are over 1 million prostitutes in the U.S, an increase of over 240% in the 10 years since the iPhone and high speed internet with video streaming was introduced. 

Do you see a recurring theme? 

While the actual number of unique pornographic videos is unknown (estimates are in the hundreds of millions), we do know that while one large porn site boasts over 90 Billion videos watched in 2018. The estimate of the top 20 sites is over 500 billion videos watched. 

Statistics also estimate that porn sites experience over 400 million visitors daily worldwide. With stats like that, the number of “willing” actresses and actors is a drop in the bucket for the massive demand of material, and the money involved leads simply to coercion, secret videos, kidnapping, drugging and more to gain content. All of these facts clearly demonstrate the connection between pornoprgrahy to sex trafficking. 

Road to Purity uncovers the link between porn and trafficking? In our research, we hear numerous accounts of young girls who are offered modeling jobs, promised money, and flown to other states for the work. Upon arrival, they quickly discover that the job is for a porn shoot. The contract they had signed requires them to perform, and if they do not, they are threatened and told their parents will be sued and financially ruined. Worse, the girls are drugged and forced to perform. This then opens the door to addiction, causing the girls to continue working just to get the drugs they are now addicted to. Often, they are lied to and told that if they just do the one scene they will let go. What actually happens is the girls are kicked out on the street with no money, no clothes, and no food thus keeping them in the business just to survive. 

The videos are then sold online. Sometimes the girls are even sold to be used in illicit massage parlors. The traffickers are essentially modern day “pimps”.  

What myths are propagated? Often people will say these are rare occurrences or almost nobody experiences this, but the numbers simply don’t lie. The overwhelming growth in porn, massage parlors and prostitutes represents the explosion of demand and thus the business of trafficking. Some of you may be aware of the push by the FBI to shut down backpage.com and particular categories in Craigslist in an effort to stop the trafficking. Their efforts really did nothing to the industry and only accomplished a “see, we are doing something about the problem” political statement.

In conclusion, consider this true story from Fight the New Drug (a nonprofit and non-legislative anti-pornography organization that is based in Utah). 

Serena Fleites was a completely normal 14-year-old—focused on school and crushes. So when her crush—a cute, older boy—asked her to send him naked videos of herself, she did it, never expecting they would end up on several of the world’s most popular porn sites. When kids at her school started bullying and calling her a “slut,” the horrifying realization set in—the videos had been shared, and she had no control over their spread. One of the videos, which had been posted to Pornhub, reportedly had hundreds of thousands of views. Overwhelmed and in agony, Serena twice tried to take her own life. And unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

Serena’s story is not an isolated incident. The unfortunate truth is that the porn industry has an extensive history of profiting from non-consensual content and abuse, often ignoring victims’ pleas to remove abusive content.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. 

In many ways, porn has impacted our society in a way that has altered our families and how we live. For more on this and the impact on our society, watch this video presentation by Dann Aungst, the president of Road to Purity

Of course, the pornography industry is not exclusively responsible for sex trafficking, but we make the point that it makes far more than just a small impact. 

Join us in continuing to save people from the chains of pornography:

Join us in praying for an end to Sex Trafficking by signing up to pray this Novena. 

Support Road to Purity in our efforts to create awareness of these topics and to heal those who are addicted. 

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