Porn and Sex Trafficking: 10 Facts from the Experts

Sex trafficking: it’s a well-known injustice which affects millions of women and children around the world; whereas porn: a well-known and widely accepted form of “entertainment.”

What’s their connection? Well, let’s take a look at some facts from the experts.

1. Let’s start by defining sex trafficking: according to the Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US Department of State, “When an adult engages in a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, as the result of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion or any combination of such means, that person is a victim of trafficking.” Further, “it’s child sex trafficking when a child (under 18 years of age) is induced to perform a commercial sex act.” In the case of a minor, proving force, fraud or coercion against their pimp is not necessary for the offense to be categorized as human trafficking.

2. Like any commercial enterprise, sex trafficking is a matter of supply, distribution, and demand. Supply: the girls. Distribution: the pimps and brothels. And demand: the johns. Experts are now seeing more and more that pornography fuels the demand by promoting the belief that women are sexual commodities, which is a key belief necessary for sex trafficking to exist.

3. If you watch porn, you are 31% more likely to blame a rape on the victim. Those who watch porn are more likely to believe the victims of sex trafficking, who are being raped, are responsible for their situation.

4. Watching porn is correlated with a 22% increased risk of committing sexual offenses, and this includes being involved in sex trafficking in some way.

5. According to former prostitute turned reformer, Norma Hotaling, “Pornography provides rationalizations for exploiters as to how and why their sexually exploitive behaviors are acceptable. Itnormalizes prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation allowing men to more freely engage in these criminal activities.”

6. When it comes to watching pornography, viewers minds can become very desensitized, which can escalated to new genres, sometimes harder and stranger forms of pornography.

7. Pornography is a training ground for johns. As Victor Malarek comments in his book, The Johns: “The message is clear: if prostitution is the main act, porn is the dress rehearsal.”

8. Police have found that porn can be used and is often used to “groom” children into thinking sex between an adult and child is an acceptable, even enjoyable activity.

9. As for prostituted women, many victims of trafficking say they are shown pornography to demonstrate what the john wants. In fact, 86% of prostituted women say johns have actually shown them pornography in order to illustrate specific acts they want them to perform. More broadly in our culture, women exposed early to porn are shown to (a) be more likely to have rape fantasies, and (b) be more likely to have attitudes that support sexual violence against women.

10. Legal distinctions aside, even if one deems pornography a potentially legitimate business enterprise, the actual recruitment, procurement, or employing of pornographic actors and actresses frequently involves false promises, threats, verbal abuse, and heavy drug use. Going back to the definition of sex trafficking, for regardless of the legalities of the media product, the production of porn in many instances is clearly an example of trafficking in persons.

Laura Lederer, former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. State Department, says,“Pornography is a brilliant social marketing campaign for commercial sexual exploitation.” Porn is marketing for sex trafficking both directly and indirectly: directly because online and offline hubs for trafficking use pornographic images to draw the buyers, indirectly because of porn’s influence on the culture.

So before we go around pointing our fingers at the pimps or johns responsible for the injustices being done to millions of people around the world through the form of sex trafficking, let’s make changes to our own habits and hearts to stop the demand, because there is a greater connection between porn and sex trafficking than you may initially think.

For more information on this topic, check out the free e-book, “Stop the Demand.


1- U.S. Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2015,” http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2015/ (accessed January 19, 2016).

2- Ron DeHaas, Luke Gilkerson, Stop the Demand: The Role of Porn in Sex Trafficking, Owosso: Covenant Eyes, 2014.  http://www.covenanteyes.com/resources/stop-demand/

3- Hearing on Pornography’s Impact on Marriage & the Family: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, U.S. Senate Hearing: Committee on Judiciary, 109th Cong. Sess. 1 (2005) (statement of Jill C. Manning, M.S., Visiting Social Science Fellow, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.), 1-3, http://s3.amazonaws.com/thf_media/2010/pdf/ ManningTST.pdf (accessed April 26, 2014).

4- Hearing on Pornography’s Impact on Marriage & the Family: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, U.S. Senate Hearing: Committee on Judiciary, 109th Cong. Sess. 1 (2005) (statement of Jill C. Manning, M.S., Visiting Social Science Fellow, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.), 1-3, http://s3.amazonaws.com/thf_media/2010/pdf/ ManningTST.pdf (accessed April 26, 2014).

5- L.J. Lederer, “Sex trafficking and illegal pornography — Is there a link?” Enough is Enough, https://internetsafety101.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/sex-trafficking-illegal-pornography-is-there-a-link-part-2/ (accessed January 20, 2015).

6- “Johns Acting Out,” Stop Trafficking Demand, http://stoptraffickingdemand.com/johns-acting-out/ (accessed January 20, 2015).

7- Victor Malarek. The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It. (Toronto, Key Porter, 2009), 196.

8- “Training Tool,” Stop Trafficking Demand, http://stoptraffickingdemand.com/training-tool/ (accessed January 20, 2015).

9- Shawn Corne, John Briere, and Lillian Esses, “Women’s attitudes and fantasies about rape as a function of early exposure to pornography,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 7 (1992): 454-461.

10- Ron DeHaas, Luke Gilkerson, Stop the Demand: The Role of Porn in Sex Trafficking, Owosso: Covenant Eyes, 2014.  http://www.covenanteyes.com/resources/stop-demand.

11- Israel Gaither, Linda Smith, Janice Shaw-Crouse, Thomas Stack, Lisa Thompson, Shelley Luben, Laura Lederer, Patrick Trueman, David Shaheed, David Kuehne, Donna Rice Hughes, Judith Resiman, Mary Anne Layden, Patrick Fagan, William Struthers, and Ron DeHaas, “Porn Has Reshaped Our Culture,” Speech, Convergence Summit, from PureHope, Baltimore, April 17, 2011. http://www.covenanteyes.com/convergence/ (accessed April 26, 2014).

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