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Tricked Into Porn: More Than 60 Actresses Forced Into Sex On Camera in Japan

By August 10, 2020No Comments
Portions of this post were originally reported on The Star’s website and HumanRightsNow. It has been edited for content and clarity.

Young, pretty and hoping for stardom, Saki Kozai thought she had found her ticket to fame after an apparent model scout spotted her on a Tokyo street and offered her a job. Then just 24 years old, starstruck and excited, she quickly signed a deal with the agency he introduced her to, believing that she would soon star in promotional videos.

In fact, it was not a modeling agency, and on her first day, Kozai discovered the job required her to have sex on camera.

“I couldn’t take off my clothes. All I could do was cry,” she said in a report, adding that she saw no way out of her dire situation. “There were about 20 people around me, waiting. No woman could say ‘no’ when they’re surrounded like that.”

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Tip of the iceberg

Kozai, now 30, is among a growing number women who stepped out of the shadows to say they were forced to work in Japan’s multi-billion-dollar porn industry. Note that these reports are from 2016, but as long as people are trafficked into doing porn, their stories especially need to be shared and talked about.

Adult films are popular in Japan, which has a relatively permissible attitude toward pornography. But the industry’s dark side is rarely discussed, nor are the risks of those who work in it. Accusations that women were made to perform in sometimes brutal sex scenes, on film against their will, prompted the industry to issue an unprecedented apology and promise change.

The surprise acknowledgment followed the June 2016 arrest of three Tokyo talent agents accused of forcing a woman to appear in more than 100 pornographic videos.

RelatedBreaking News: Japanese Talent Agents Arrested For Forcing Models To Make Porn

Like Kozai, the unnamed woman also thought she would be modeling, according to the report. Critics say porn recruiters trick young womenincluding minorswith promises of stardom. In other cases, girls have been lured by a lavish lifestyle before they are put to work in sex films to pay off the “debt.” Agencies keep them stuck with threats, intimidation, and fraudulent contracts.

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Forced actors succumb to depression & suicide

Another woman, who declined to be named, said she was tricked into porn by an agent who promised to help her become a singer. She signed a contract that she says did not make clear the nature of her real work.

“The agency spent months trying to convince me. I had no choice” after signing the contract, the 26-year-old said. She resisted at first. But like Kozai and others, she succumbed to the pressure.

Related: Former Porn Star/Radio Host Lisa Ann Opens Up About Extreme Abuse of New Performers

“At first, I said I couldn’t do it,” she added. “But when I did, it really hurt. The production team wouldn’t stop though.”

Japanese non-profit group Lighthouse, which works to stop human trafficking, said more than 60 actresses trying to escape the business contacted them in the first half of 2016well above previous years.

“And we think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lighthouse spokeswoman Aiki Segawa. “Many victims feel guilty, thinking that what happened is their fault.”

Most women are youngbetween 18 and 25with little knowledge of legal contracts and a tough case to prove in court. “They’re not necessarily all abused or locked up…It’s more like they are tricked into it,” Segawa said.

Kozai got hooked on tranquilizers to deal with the anxiety and then was isolated after the agency convinced her to cut off contact with family to focus on her career. “I couldn’t make rational decisions anymore,” she said.

A report by Tokyo-based Human Rights Now details a list of dirty tricks used by porn recruiters. Among them, victims are sometimes threatened with huge fines to get out of vaguely worded contracts or told they would never be able to find a job outside porn after appearing on film. Scouts have also shown up at university campuses or a victim’s home to demand money from their parents if they refused to work, it said.

RelatedHow Teen Girls Get Tricked Into Doing Porn

Nonconsensual porn can be basically impossible to remove from the internet once it’s been shared. One woman cited in the report had repeated plastic surgeries to change her appearance and escape her past, while another decided told a nonprofit that she planned to hire a lawyer to stop the distribution of movies she appeared in, but she took her own life before pushing on with the case, the report said.

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Porn fuels trafficking, and vice versa

The porn industry has many dark secrets, including using coercion to get people on camera, and also being inseparably connected to exploitation and sex trafficking.

The sad truth about porn is that no one can be sure if what they are viewing came about from seriously harmful or illegal means. All the statistics above are just from reported cases of exploitation and pressure to perform in porn. Think about all the countless other situations that fly below the radar.

With each of these cases, the truth is becoming harder to ignorethe porn industry is fueled by sex trafficking.

Related: By The Numbers: Is The Porn Industry Connected To Sex Trafficking?

Sometimes, pornographic images and videos are fringe “products” from victims being sold for sex. Sometimes, recruiters specifically use force, fraud, or coercion to ensnare vulnerable or unsuspecting people into performing sex acts on camera.

The bigger the porn industry gets, the more challenging it will be for performers to step out and speak out without backlash when they’ve been exploited and abused in the name of sexual entertainment. As of now, there is no easily-accessible system of support or reporting for those who have been forced, frauded, and coerced into shooting even one porn scene, and blacklisting outspoken performers is currently the informal industry standard.

We are not claiming that all porn is non-consensual, but rather, raising awareness that there is often no way to tell if the porn a consumer views is completely consensual or produced with coercion.

Related: Can The Line Between Consent And Coercion Get Blurred During Porn Production?

And if you’re still not convinced content on mainstream sites isn’t all consensual, read this Jezebel.com storythis story on Daily Beastthis story on Complex.comthis Rolling Stone storythis Daily Beast storythis Bustle.com storythis story on CNNthis NY Post storythis Gizmodo.com storythis BBC reportthis Florida Sun-Sentinel reportthis Daily Wire storythis Buzzfeed News profileand this UK Independent story for further proof that the mainstream porn industry features nonconsensual videos and videos of trafficked individuals. And yes, this includes videos on Pornhub and other mainstream porn sites.

Not clicking isn’t always easy, since porn is everywhere and so many people struggle, but it’s an action that we can all take, and it’s an action that matters.

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