Exodus Cry has been in the media lately for its new campaign called Traffickinghub. This human rights activist group was founded by filmmaker Benjamin Nolot, and it's making some serious strides to curb the exploitation of people in the porn industry. We'll look at what the campaign is all about and why their cause is being backed by some prominent celebrities in the business.
The Rise of Exodus Cry
Exodus Cry rose to prominence and global visibility after the release of CEO Benjamin Nolot's film, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary about human trafficking, would be the spark that would lead him to a larger mission.
He visited 19 different countries, including those in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The goal was not to make money, but to wake people up to what is happening all around them. Change is possible for all of us, as long as we have the courage to see the situation for what it is.
Pornography is undoubtedly a charged topic for those who discuss it. Even in private, it can be a difficult conversation, but the level of scrutiny is raised to another level when it's made public. The danger with these facts is that the stigma can be so high that people attempt to ignore it entirely. Fighting the industry starts with acknowledging how it operates.
A Call to Action
Exodus Cry was not created to fight specifically against any one company or individual, but its latest campaign was more targeted against Pornhub. After many allegations against the website and the parent company MindGeek, there is a clear link between human trafficking and some of the videos that can be found on MindGeek's websites.
This is a cause that is stoking a lot of celebrity attention as well. Traffickinghub is being hashtagged on social media by stars like Jenna Jameson, previously a porn actress herself, as a way to call attention to the problems that are inherent in her past line of work. Jameson may have notoriety, but when she retired from the industry, she would detail her own experiences with trafficking in her book.
After posting a petition on Change.org last year, the organization gathered 2.2 million signatures to shut down Pornhub completely. These signatures were garnered after Exodus Cry made an impassioned plea to the public, one that was focused on human rights for people all around the globe. This is a small but important way that people can take part in ending harmful cycles.
MindGeek is the parent company of Pornhub, one with plenty of unsavory stories in its past. It runs more than 160 websites and has been accused of promoting nonconsensual and pedophilic material to viewers. Thankfully, it's been under investigation from a number of different groups, including those in Canada and the US, and Exodus Cry was a key driver in many of these criminal investigations.
With headquarters in Montreal, the Canadian Parliament took key steps to address this issue by holding public hearings in February 2021. During these hearings, the group listened to witness testimony about the practices of MindGeek and how the company took advantage of different populations to produce content.
It was just four days after the hearings that MindGeek executives met with the ethics committee to discuss their side of the story. And while these executives continue to insist that they want to create a safe environment, their actions suggest otherwise.
The outcry has been overwhelming against their business model, and advocates are proud to stand with the victims to ensure that their voices are every bit as loud as the executives on the other side of the proverbial table.
The Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics received a multi-page letter that included a collective of 104 survivors of sexual exploitation and 525 nongovernmental organizations from 65 different countries. It called on the committee to impose more restrictions in the industry and to perform a full criminal investigation into MindGeek.
'Shut Down Pornhub and Hold Its Executives Accountable for Aiding Trafficking' is the name of the petition that managed to attract so much attention. It's a non-religious and non-partisan effort by Exodus Cry and its founder Benjamin Nolot that has the full support of international activists from nearly 200 countries and more than 300 organizations.
Pornhub generates millions of dollars every year, plus 42 billion visits from people all over the world. Yet, as their revenue climbs, they have no systems in place to correctly identify exploitative content. The website even admitted that a child was 'verified' on its site via a Tweet. While this admission has been taken down since, the evidence still remains.
A Public Health Crisis
There have been news-worthy efforts made in Canada, but the US has taken steps as well to come out against an often seedy industry.
Montana became the 13th state in the nation to declare pornography a public health crisis due to its detrimental effects on brain development. In addition to stories shared in homes or on social media among peers, there have been larger campaigns waged by a variety of beloved public figures.
Celebrities like Terry Crews, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Chris Rock have opened up about what it means to invite porn into your life and what it can do to your relationships. People might paint this as nothing more than a healthy hobby, but this is a whitewashed version of the truth. The executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Dawn Hawkins, has compared the effects of porn to that of tobacco.
Turning the Tides
To take people from their homes and commit trafficking, there needs to be a system in place. In some ways, we're just beginning to learn more about what the processes entail. In December 2020, 40 women would come forward to file a lawsuit against Pornhub due to the website's profit from their exploitation.
Exodus Cry was created to break the cycle of exploitation and be a service to everyone who needs their help. The organization performs international work to ensure that every person can be free. This couldn't come at a better time, especially when there's been so much more discussion about what happens to people who are involved.
Nicholas Kristof penned an article in the New York Times at the end of 2020 as a vendetta against Pornhub. In it, he alleged that the company hadn't enforced its own policies and said that the site was 1,000 times worse than Jeffrey Epstein. These are strong words against the company, and part of the reason why Nebraska-senator Ben Sasse implored the Department of Justice to investigate MindGeek.
The BBC also reported on videos of the rape of a 14-year-old girl named Rose Kalemba, which were then promoted on Pornhub. The NY Post reported that a 15-year-old girl from Florida ended up on Pornhub as well. Her mother had been looking for her for close to a year before the videos surfaced of her.
Exodus Cry is proud to be a part of efforts that will turn the tide. The non-profit organization is calling people to become more aware of how others are being treated. And while this group is not the only one that is playing a pivotal role, it's been a particularly important one to address the policies of Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek.
The Larger Industry
Trafficking is really just one part of a much larger problem, and no one knows this better than the team at Exodus Cry - to really tackle everything from violence to inequality, strategies have to expand to encompass the people that it affects.
There are those who can take control of the situation and do things on their own terms. Then, there are also plenty out there who feel forced to make difficult decisions that offer no alternatives outside a life of exploitation. So even if they weren't physically or mentally coerced into something, that doesn't mean that they're making a fully informed choice. For Exodus Cry, this is not about judgment, but about education and opportunity.
This group wants to empower people and free them from a seemingly unwinnable situation. They want to disrupt the entire industry, replacing its exploitative practices with a system that will treat everyone fairly. With the media on the organization's side and millions of people supporting their cause, advocates like Benjamin Nolot are in a prime position to affect change and be the hope they want to see in the world.