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Understanding the Disturbing Popularity of Porn Featuring Refugee Abuse

Popular porn sites have content featuring the sexual exploitation of one of the more vulnerable groups of people in the world—displaced refugees.

TRIGGER WARNING

Disclaimer: Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative awareness and education organization. Some of the issues discussed in the following article are legislatively-affiliated. Including links and discussions about these legislative matters does not constitute an endorsement by Fight the New Drug. Though our organization is non-legislative, we fully support the regulation of already illegal forms of pornography and sexual exploitation, including the fight against sex trafficking.

The porn industry has no boundaries when it comes to who they’ll exploit or dehumanize in the name of sexual entertainment. In fact, if something is considered taboo—incest, rape, child abuse—they’re all the more likely to exploit and sell it as a sexual fantasy.

It isn’t news that pornographers prey on “plots” involving vulnerable people, selling it as sexual fantasy at the expense of those exploited and the consumer. Increasingly, producers have targeted one of the most vulnerable groups of people in society—the millions of displaced refugees worldwide.

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The global refugee crisis and sexual exploitation

Here’s some background on a complicated issue that’s impacting our world today.

At the end of 2016, there were 65.5 million people forcibly displaced from their countries worldwide. And in 2017, the global number of refugees stood at a staggering 22.5 million. Roughly 55% of these refugees came from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

Many countries open their borders to refugees, with the top 10 host countries including Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, and others.

Related: This Disturbing Porn Site Fantasizes The Real Rape Problem Among Central American Migrants

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that at least 70.8 million people around the world had been forced to flee their homes as of 2020. Among them are nearly 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

As they cross borders seeking safety, many refugees are sexually exploited and trafficked. Often, traffickers and smugglers promise to provide for their needs and offer safe passage into these countries in return for payment. Because many refugees can’t speak the local language, lack proper documentation, and are desperately trying to survive, they don’t see any other option.

Their oppressors frequently use physical and sexual abuse to demand more money than originally agreed upon, and their abuse can be recorded and distributed as porn.

Unicef conducted a series of interviews with unaccompanied minor refugees. Their report confirmed that many refugees, especially children, are ill-informed about their legal rights to protection and even fear engaging with authorities due to a lack of trust. They perceive smugglers and traffickers as their only form of protection as they attempt to enter a new country alone.

Sexually exploitive situations with vulnerable people

At the highest risk of sexual exploitation are migrant children traveling alone. Over half of the refugee population are children and the number of unaccompanied refugee children has increased significantly in recent years. Many are left exposed to exploitation and sexual abuse by traffickers.

Many children have been paid to be raped in order to fund their journeys and pay smugglers to help them reach their destinations. Traffickers often help them cross borders only to sell them into sex trafficking.

Another group especially susceptible to targeting by traffickers are women traveling alone—some single, some with children, and many who are pregnant. A large portion of these women run female-headed households and struggle to feed themselves and their families. They are often the victims of gender-based violence, forced to perform sex acts in order to receive pay and food to survive, and often brutally raped.

RelatedThe Connection Between Violent Porn And Domestic Violence In Bolivia

It’s important to remember that men and boys can also be sex trafficking victims. They are no exception, with many male refugees being forced to perform sexual acts in order to be paid for their work.

The UN Refugee Agency conducted a study in late 2016 where roughly 196 refugees in Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan revealed shocking accounts of what they had experienced. Many refugee boys endure sexual violence and blackmailing by males in their new countries and by other refugees.

Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, told this heartbreaking story: “My friend works with a 60-year-old man who refuses to give him wages until he does a sexual favour… My friend cannot leave the job because he needs it for rent and to support his family. He is 30 years old, married and has a family, but he cannot talk to them about this.”

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Porn makes fantasy out of these real nightmares

The abuse that many refugees endure is unacceptable. And yet the porn industry capitalizes on these heartbreaking and exploitative situations and sells them as graphic fantasy.

Don’t believe us? At one time, one of the most popular porn sites doesn’t just have a few videos, but an entire section dedicated to “Syrian Refugee Porn,” which is not exactly surprising given that millions of Syrians have fled their homes since.

Related: Why Does The Porn Industry Get Away With Racist Portrayals Of Black People?

Here are a few real storylines from some of the most popular porn sites:

“Muslim refugee beautiful pregnant mom f— by white guy…”

“Afghan refugee f—ing for money…”

“Poor Arab refugee girl picked up from the side of the road. Lured into the car for a ride. Exploited as an easy piece of f— meat…”

“This beautiful Arab refugee knocked for some money and food. She came in and offered her p— for to f— and asked for some food to eat…”

The worst part is that these storylines fetishize real-life situations, as we explained above.

Exploiting the real-life tragedies of those who can’t speak for themselves and reinforcing it as fantasy is in character for the porn industry. The porn industry didn’t invent racism, but it certainly profits from it.

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“Fantasy” mingled with reality

Consider that some content on mainstream porn sites that allow users to upload their own videos may feature the real abuse of refugees, and may not be fantasized at all.

After all, it’s a verifiable fact that real videos of sex trafficking victims are mingled among porn produced with allegedly consenting performers on popular porn sites, and there’s truly no way to tell the difference between true exploitation and scripted violent fantasy.

This is just one way that porn and sex trafficking are connected.

Porn also fuels the demand for sex trafficking and further reinforces the harmful idea that people are products.

Related: By The Numbers: How Porn And Sex Trafficking Are Closely Connected

Regardless of where someone stands on dividing political issues, we can all agree that people do not deserve to be abused, and that it is unacceptable for the most vulnerable individuals in society to be exploited for adult  “entertainment.”

The truth is, porn glamorizing the abuse and exploitation of refugees wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a demand for it. Every view, click, and download fuels the demand for the continued production of violent porn and reinforces attitudes and behaviors of degradation and objectification. Supporting the industry further perpetuates abuse and will continue to drive pornographers to create content that exploits and fantasizes abusive situations.

We can fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Refuse to click. Together, we can help stop the demand.

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