For too long Pornhub has acted with impunity. Now we finally have the chance to hold the site to account.

The coalition of 300+ organisations behind the #TraffickingHub campaign, led by Laila Mickelwait and Exodus Cry, has this week released a new video detailing just how complicit Pornhub is in crimes of the gravest nature: a 15 year old girl from Florida who was abducted and only found because 58 videos of her rape and abuse were uploaded to the site; Rose Kalemba, who had to beg Pornhub for months to remove videos of her rape and knife-point assault; the promotion of “GirlsDoPorn” content which featured 22 women who had been deceived, coerced, and trafficked into their videos. Despicably, as #TraffickingHub’s latest video points out, Pornhub earns millions of dollars from illegal content like this through advertising and product placement.

CEASE UK, and many other campaign groups and charities, have long tried to draw attention to the inherent violence and abuse that the porn industry promotes, but also directly facilitates. It is fantastically encouraging that over one million people in more than 190 countries have signed #TraffickingHub’s petition calling for an investigation into the alleged criminality of Pornhub, and it shows the public appetite to hold these facilitators of sexual exploitation to account.

But this is only the beginning of the fight, not the end. For example, after many, many months of hard work, late last year the UK Government shelved plans for age verification, which would have required those wishing to access porn sites to prove they are over 18. This has since been subsumed into the Online Harms Bill proposal, but it is still unclear as to how, and whether, this will actually be implemented.

Regulations such as age verification are desperately needed for an industry that effectively operates completely free from any accountability. Indeed, here at CEASE we argue that there should be further safeguards in place to prevent the vast and criminal sexual exploitation that occurs on Pornhub, such as robust age checks of performers.

While this is certainly not a silver bullet – and it should be stated, CEASE wishes to see an end to the vast commercial sexual exploitation industry in its entirety – it would go some way in reducing the opportunity for morally bankrupt sites to profit from rape and abuse.

Further to this, awareness also needs to be raised about the culpability of those who watch this type of material, oftentimes thinking they may not be doing anything wrong. A study by Ipsos Mori found that:

“30% young men do not identify it as illegal to download, view or share sexual images of children when they appear without nudity; 27% don’t think it’s illegal if the children appear to agree to take part in the picture; and 26% of young men don’t identify it as illegal if the image appears to be self-made by the child. Young men are more likely than other adults of all ages to not identify the illegality of these situations.”

As the #TraffickingHub video and campaign highlights, this material is all too common on Pornhub. Those who watch porn need to realise that their continuing support – tacit or otherwise – is what fuels the wider industry. Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek are  . If they can profit from videos of abuse, rape, and exploitation, then they will do so, and they don’t care an iota for those in the videos, nor for the culpability of those who may be engaging in criminal activity by watching.

The #TraffickingHub petition and campaign is one of the biggest awareness raising efforts of the harms of porn in recent history, and we cannot, and should not, let this opportunity slip through our fingers. The time has come for the UK Government, and wider society, to realise this is a ruthless, brutal industry built on violence and abuse, and not one of innocent fun and “experimentation”. The time has come for us to dismantle Pornhub once and for all.

If you haven’t already, please sign the petition – joining over 1 million others – demanding that Pornhub be held to account.