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'Torture and barbarism' endemic in porn industry, finds study

A man looking at pornographic websites.
A man looking at pornographic websites. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Laura Llach with AFP
Published on Updated
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"Our aim is to shake people's consciences," said the president of the French High Council for Equality.

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The French High Council for Equality has laid bare violence and brutality in the porn industry, classifying pornography as an "illegal act of torture".

Entitled "Pornocrime", itsshocking report, which called on the authorities to combat a "system that massacres women for profit", was presented on Wednesday to Bérangère Couillard, France's Minister for Gender Equality. 

After analysing hundreds of videos, the organisation concluded 90% of pornographic content available online contains physical or verbal violence and is "criminally reprehensible".

John Locher/AP
In this Jan. 21, 2015, photo, a man takes a picture of a woman at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo.John Locher/AP

'Torture, suffocation and electrocution'

The independent public institution carried out a study of the internet's four main pornographic platforms – Pornhub, XVideos, Xnxx and Xhamster. 

It found multiple videos entitled "triple anal" or "prolapse", which refers to the dropping of internal organs as a result of brutal penetration.

The report also points to "gangbang" videos in which several men simultaneously penetrate a woman through multiple orifices.

"Our aim is to shake people's consciences by crudely describing the torture practices that are commonplace in the porn industry. We call it 'pornocrime' because these practices are illegal and fall under the penal code," Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, president of the council, told AFP.

The report goes further, pointing out that some of these videos – which sometimes count 14 million views a month – "fall within the legal definition of acts of torture and barbarism".

It singles out women as the main victims, saying that "these acts are not simulated, the violence is real, it is not cinema".

"There are 1.4 million videos of sadistic practices: "Suffocation, bukkake (as many as dozens of men ejaculating on one woman), gangbang, gagging (deep fellatio suffocation), torture, electrocution" it continues.

"The contracts that these companies force women to sign are illegal," explains the president of the Council, insisting that production companies and platforms "have no right to profit from the exploitation of the human body". 

"It is not possible to "consent to an act of violence against yourself," it added. 

Elise Amendola/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
In this June 19, 2017, file photo, a person types on a laptop keyboard.Elise Amendola/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.

The report's authors point out that it is not only women who are victims of the pornography industry, children are affected too. 

They say there are about 1.3 million child-themed videos on these sites that "trivialise and eroticise incest and child criminality".

Stronger measures

The committee's experts have proposed a number of measures for the government to take.

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These include giving the French regulator for audiovisual and digital communications the power to "block pornographic websites that do not apply effective age controls".

Although the country passed a law introducing such a requirement in 2020, the porn industry is reluctant to implement it properly, citing technical difficulties.

Another of the measures they propose is to establish a right to remove content of a sexual nature at the request of any person featured in a given recording.

The report also stresses the importance of sex education in schools to combat the risk of young people being educated primarily by watching porn. 

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The committee wants at least three sex education lessons in schools to include a critique of pornography.

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