Cover photo by Scott G. Winterton, retrieved from KSL. Portions of this article are from a report by
When Suzie Skirvin was 19, she was planning to join the Air Force. She moved to California, where she met someone on Tinder, dated him, and eventually agreed to move in with him. Just before she moved into his place, he took her out to a nice dinner. During the meal, he placed her purse with her phone, keys, and wallet on his chair and then asked her how she was going to pay for what he was providing.
“He said ‘OK now you’re going to be a stripper and an escort,’ and the only thing I could say was ‘okay,’” Skirvin said at a recent panel discussion about sex trafficking.
Suzie is now a police officer, and she said knowing what she does now there were things she should have spotted. His stories didn’t add up, she didn’t hear about his friends or family and he said he had a job but she didn’t know what it was and didn’t see him going to work. She also did not look at his social media pages or ask about his family.
The realities of sex trafficking in the world today
It may surprise you to learn that one of the biggest humanitarian crises the world is dealing with today is sex trafficking. And when sex trafficking and porn are placed side by side, the common thought is that they are miles apart. However, all it takes is a look at the research and survivor stories to give us a much different conclusion.
Part of our campaign to raise awareness on the harmful effects of porn includes shining a bright spotlight on porn’s relationship with human trafficking. But how could this be true? Because, thanks to an increasing number of studies on the connection, we see:
- Porn, oftentimes, is recorded evidence of sex trafficking.
- Porn directly fuels the demand for exploitation and sex trafficking.
For an average porn consumer, there is no way to know where their pornography came from and if the actors are performing willingly. Click here to learn more about how porn and sex trafficking are intimately linked.
No matter how good or “fun” something in the adult entertainment world looks, they may not be there by choice, as we learned in Suzie’s story. So by clicking pornography, consumers are supporting the demand for an industry that is deeply connected with sex trafficking. The two go hand in hand, and contribute to serious crimes against humans and society.
Trafficking is everywhere, even dating sites
To shed light on these dark facts, a few years ago, an Irish ad agency came up with a relatable and illustrative campaign using Tinder to show the hard truth behind how you can never quite know what you’re clicking.
The campaign reached Tinder-users by placing seemingly normal women (the agency used models to pose as sex trafficking victims), and revealed that with each swipe right, the photos became increasingly more disturbing and “real.” The user then ends on a message about sex trafficking and how they can get informed. This campaign and Suzie’s story remind us how trafficking hides in plain sight.
Check them out:
photos courtesy of Eighty Twenty
Driving the demand for commodified sex into society
Pornography fuels the global sex trade, and thereby fuels trafficking, by driving demand into the mainstream of society. And since porn consumers do not and cannot distinguish between trafficked individuals and porn performers, they can often reinforce and drive the demand for exploitation through clicks and downloads without realizing it.
We know a lot of this info flies in the face of what most people think they know or understand about the porn industry. We get that it can be really shocking to learn the facts behind such a normalized, glamorized, and promoted industry.
But consider how every download, click, and view not only reinforce this industry’s influence and power in our society, but also serve to legitimize the violence and exploitation trafficked individuals or performers suffer at the hands of their exploiters.
This is why we raise awareness on how supporting the industry means supporting sex trafficking, and why fighting porn is essential to fighting trafficking. In the end, the temporary pleasure of porn is not worth the price of all the exploited people who are used in the creation process.
As for Suzie?
Stop the demand, and refuse to click exploitation.