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Pornhub Refused to Remove Videos of This Minor’s Sexual Assault—Until She Posed as Her Own Lawyer

By February 20, 2020 No Comments
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Cover image retrieved from BBC. 6-minute read.
TRIGGER WARNING

If there has ever been an example of porn’s tight link to real-world sexual exploitation, it’s Rose Kalemba’s story.

You may have recently heard on social about Rose’s nightmarish experience and the resulting years of exploitation, but here’s a rundown.

Rose’s story

The summer she was 14, according to Rose Kalemba, she went for an evening walk around her quiet Ohio neighborhood.

Suddenly, a man approached her and forced her into his car at knifepoint. This man along with two others took Rose to a house where she was reportedly serially raped and physically abused until morning. One of the men filmed the attack.

Rose explains how they stabbed and beat her, eventually threatening to kill her. She moved in and out of consciousness over the course of 12 hours. In the morning, she gained enough mental awareness to talk the attackers down from ending her life. They drove her back towards home and dropped her in the street.

Related: How This Guy Posted Revenge Porn Of His Ex To Pornhub Where It Got +1,000 Views

She had barely lived through a nightmare, yet many in her extended family and social network accused her of leading the men on, of “asking for it” somehow. This social pressure to explain and justify one’s own rape experience is enough for a victim to deal with—it led her to attempt suicide the day after being released from the hospital.

But her story didn’t end there.

Give One For Love

A couple of months after the attack, Rose discovered a Pornhub link her schoolmates were sharing around—it was the video of her rape.

The video was uploaded under the titles: “teen crying and getting slapped around,” “teen getting destroyed,” and “passed out teen.”

Rose described the following days and months to the BBC in an interview. “The worst videos were the ones where I was passed out. Seeing myself being attacked where I wasn’t even conscious was the worst,” she said. Most of her peers in school saw the uploaded videos, and intense bullying from both male and female classmates ensued.

In talking to Fight the New Drug about her story, Rose said:

“My assault itself put me in a mental prison, but PornHub gave me a life sentence. Millions of men watched the six videos of my assault. I have no way of knowing how many of those millions downloaded them and still have access to them even after PornHub finally removed them from its site after I pretended to be a lawyer… The porn industry made it so that my rape didn’t just end that horrible night, and my fears weren’t just that—they quickly became reality. Because of the porn industry, I was harassed, stalked, threatened, and so much more for years and years after my attack. I was followed multiple times when I was walking around, spit on, and groped, and touched against my will—by complete strangers and also some boys and grown men I knew.”

Every day, she had to live with the aching anxiety that everyone she met had seen her worst nightmare on video. “Had they seen it? Were they aroused by it? Had they gratified themselves to my rape?” she asked herself whenever interacting with a new stranger.

“At best,” she told us, “I was a cautionary tale that parents warned their kids to stay away from lest they end up like me—as if I was a contagious disease. At worst, I was victim-blamed for my own assault and called every degrading name you can think of.”

Pornhub kept her rape alive

Here’s where the porn industry’s culpability comes in.

After discovering that her rape was broadcasted online for anyone to see, Rose spent 6 months periodically emailing Pornhub, asking for the videos to be taken down.

“I pleaded with them. I wrote, ‘Please, I’m a minor, this was assault, please take it down,’” Rose told the BBC.

Can you guess Pornhub’s response? Rose says she received no reply to her emails, and the videos stayed live on the site.

After months of unsuccessful petitioning—months of reliving the horror of her rape every time she saw a stranger knowing they could watch her filmed assault at any second—Rose set up an email account and contacted Pornhub posing as a lawyer threatening a lawsuit. Rose says that within 48 hours of this email, the videos were gone.

So the jist of this horrifying reality is that Pornhub ignored an underage rape victim for months but listened to a lawyer threatening to sue within 2 days. Let that sink in.

Related: Pornhub Reportedly Profits From Nonconsensual Videos And Real Rape Tapes—Here Are The Latest Examples

Pornhub gave a statement to the BBC regarding Rose’s case, claiming that Pornhub is under new management since 2009 when the incident occurred, and that since the change in ownership, they have “continuously put in place the industry’s most stringent safeguards and policies when it comes to combating unauthorized and illegal content, as part of our commitment to combating child sex abuse material.” But have they, really?

Brain Heart World

Despite this claim, stories about the site hosting non-consensual videos of abuse surface continually. Rose is far from alone.

In response to a viral blog post Rose wrote in 2019 about her experience, dozens of women and a handful of men contacted her, saying that videos of their own sexual abuse had also been uploaded to Pornhub.

The industry and the elusive issue of consent

Kate Isaacs, a representative from Not Your Porn—an organization that investigates the illegal and unethical actions of porn sites—confirmed to the BBC just how prevalent videos of non-consensual abuse are today on a number of free porn sites.

“Porn sites are aware that there is disturbing and non-consensual content on their platforms. They know that there is no way we can differentiate fantasy role-play acting, or faked production scenarios, or real abuse,” Isaacs explained.

That’s the problem—Pornhub might have a “non-consensual content removal system” that they advertise in cases like this to save face, but in reality, they can hide behind claims of protecting free expression and seemingly stay ignorant on what is consensual and what isn’t.

In response to the question of why videos with titles like those of Rose’s rape remain active on their site—“extreme teen abuse” and “teen abused while sleeping,” for example—Pornhub stated: “We allow all forms of sexual expression that follow our Terms of Use, and while some people may find these fantasies inappropriate, they do appeal to many people around the world and are protected by various freedom of speech laws.”

Related: Private Photos Of These Women Were Shared Non-Consensually To Pornhub, And Now They’re Fighting Back

The truth is that there is no way to know for certain whether an uploaded video shows consensual content or not. So porn sites use the idea of “free expression” to allow virtually anything to post, trend, and get millions of views. And when victims themselves request removal of videos showing their exploitation, that often isn’t enough.

Global Fight For Love Long Sleeve

Is consensual rape porn any better?

Really, when we take an honest look at porn site content, even consensually-produced “rape” porn has all kinds of problems of its own. Even the consensual staged productions of abuse scenes and rape scenes contribute to the exploitation of others by normalizing and even glorifying their experiences.

A video called “drunk teen raped while sleeping”—even if the actress is over 18 and signed on willingly to the filming, though that can be incredibly difficult for the consumer to confirm—normalizes real scenarios of exploitation and abuse. This content presents destructive situations like what happened to Rose into a sexual fantasy for others to use for personal pleasure. So when someone sees an actual video of an actual assault, they’ve been desensitized to the real violence of it, and it has become just another rape fantasy video.

See how this perpetuates exploitation, objectification, and insensitivity to real victimization?

Related: More Than 80 Men Were Sexually Exploited And Secretly Filmed For This Guy’s Porn Site

Porn video fantasy scenarios surrounding children and teens contributes to the sexualization of minors in the real world, even leading some consumers in extreme situations to act out these fantasies with real children. A consumer’s brain can’t discriminate between consensual and non-consensual rape scenes in porn—the videos desensitize the brain to such behavior, regardless of the behind-the-scenes context.

And it’s not just minors who are victimized by porn’s “fantasies.” It’s babysitters, makeup artists, rideshare passengers, people of minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, those in the LGBTQIA+ community, and the list goes on and on.

Research shows again and again how violent and exploitative scenes in porn lower consumers’ inhibitions towards such behavior and warp relational expectations at the very least, or can lead to real-life abuse in extreme situations.

Consider Before Consuming

Rose’s story as hope going forward

Back to Rose’s story. Here’s what she wants everyone to know and take away from her story:

“I want the general public to know that just because they may not have ever assaulted anyone, doesn’t mean they are not complicit in our abuse if they choose to create the demand for it by using internet porn. When my story first went public, I received messages from dozens of women and men who have been abused on almost every site you can imagine—not just huge tube sites like Pornhub, but also independently produced content sites like OnlyFans, ManyVids, and so much more. Dozens of messages turned into hundreds before long. The problem with the industry isn’t a few bad apples—it’s a rotten tree. There is no loophole to use porn that will magically make the industry not predatory, sexist, and racist. If you want to protect minors and victims, refuse to use. Stand up when you see injustice. Uplift and center the voices of survivors.”

We can find hope in her story because of the way it is shedding light on the hypocrisy of the porn industry. Under the guise of sexual expression and personal pleasure, porn sites facilitate and profit from re-victimizing rape victims with every click on a hosted nonconsensual video, and they normalize victimization even with so much of consensual material. This is happening no matter what policies porn sites put in place to make them look “woke.”

Related: PayPal, Kraft, And Unilever: Why These Big Companies Recently Stopped Working With Pornhub

But Rose is speaking up and making a difference. Her viral blog post and continued publicity have drawn attention to the harms of porn and are inspiring others to have these difficult conversations and challenge the porn industry’s role in our society.

Share this post and consider ditching porn yourself, starting conversations about porn-induced exploitation, or whatever step makes sense for you to fight for love, respect, and against exploitation.

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