Pictures and videos of youth are being posted on pornography sites without their knowledge or permission. This is an issue on which the EFC is raising awareness and seeking legislative changes on the national level. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection describes a “tsunami” of victims coming to organizations like theirs, asking for help to have images of abuse or exploitation taken down.
The EFC recently sent a brief to a parliamentary committee that is studying the role of online platforms such as Pornhub in hosting these non-consensual uploads and images of child sexual abuse. We asked the committee to take concrete actions to hold pornography platforms accountable for hosting and monetizing these images and videos.
Children and youth face lifelong consequences when images of their abuse or exploitation are shared online and widely viewed. Our brief recommended the government require pornography sites to verify the age and consent of each person who appears in videos before they are uploaded.
We watched the committee meetings and heard a young woman named Serena Fleites, 19, tell her story. She told the committee how she had moved to a new town in junior high and a boy she liked pressured her to send him a video of herself.
Eventually, she gave in to his demands. When she was 13, Serena sent the boy a video, less than a minute long. In heart breaking detail, Serena told the committee how her life was destroyed as that video was circulated throughout her school, her town and was ultimately posted on Pornhub, the most popular free pornography site online.
When she found out the video had been uploaded to Pornhub, Serena asked the site repeatedly to take it down. Pornhub ignored her multiple requests to have the video removed, until she pretended to be her mother. They required her to prove her identity and her age, even though the video was clearly of a minor. She faced delay after delay. After the video was eventually taken down, it was posted again by another user. To this day, Serena can’t be sure the video of herself as a young teen is not posted on Pornhub or some other pornography site.
Serena’s life fell apart as a result of that boy’s actions and Pornhub’s negligence. She’s begun to talk about what happened to her in the hopes of helping others who’ve been similarly victimized – and of holding Pornhub to account.
Serena is not the only one, not by far. The RCMP say they’ve also seen a dramatic increase in reports of online child sexual exploitation. “In 2019 the centre received 102,927 requests for assistance, an increase of 68% since 2018 and an overall increase of 1,106% since 2014,” they reported.
The EFC asked the committee to hold pornography platforms accountable to Canadian laws on child pornography and on distributing intimate images without consent. MindGeek, which owns Pornhub and more than 100 other hardcore pornography sites, has offices in Montreal with 1,800 staff. Any company operating in Canada, or seeking access to a Canadian market, must abide by and be held accountable to Canadians laws.
A letter to the ethics committee signed by 104 survivors of sexual exploitation and 525 stakeholder organizations from 65 countries, including the EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life, urged a full criminal investigation into MindGeek.
It is your support that enables us to add a Christian voice to this important conversation. You can add your voice as in individual as well and ask MPs to protect children and youth in front of and behind the screen. Ask your MP to support laws that require pornography sites to verify the age and consent of those whose images are uploaded. And ask your MP to require pornography sites to put meaningful age verification in place to ensure only adults can access their content.
What you can do
- Send in a postcard to your MP, request the postcard by calling 1-866-302-3362 x 229 or email us at [email protected]
- The EFC’s website has more resources and information, such as a sample letter to MPs asking them to protect children and youth in front of and behind the screen. Write your own letter using our template at www.TheEFC.ca/Pornography.
- Continue to support our work in prayer and by donations. Issues like these are the exact places a strong Christian voice should be heard.
Also in this issue: At work for conscience protection: Protecting medical professionals; Peace and Reconciliation work continues; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues; Message from the President, Bruce J. Clemenger; Heart and hands: Insights from the work of EFC researcher Lindsay Callaway; New EFC board chair; Praying with and for the EFC.