Sex Workers Say Visa and MasterCard’s Ban of Pornhub Will Not Solve Issue of Illegal Content

© AP Photo / Dita AlangkaraIn this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, a sex worker checks her smartphone as she and others wait for customers in a brothel at Dolly prostitution complex in Surabaya, Indonesia.
In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, a sex worker checks her smartphone as she and others wait for customers in a brothel at Dolly prostitution complex in Surabaya, Indonesia. - Sputnik International
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The payment card companies recently suspended cooperation with the adult entertainment website following the publication of an article in The New York Times that alleged the site was “infested” with child porn and other illegal content.

Sex workers have criticised Visa and MasterCard’s decision to cut their services for Pornhub, saying the move threatens their livelihoods, as it has made it impossible for adult performers to receive payments. Swedish performer Cara Vega said she earned just $34 in December after both companies decided to part ways with the adult film website. The young woman called the decision irresponsible, as it left people "without income overnight”.

"[It] is not a lot. There's not a lot you can do about it, which makes you feel really helpless. I have friends who are considering leaving the business as a whole, just because Pornhub was such a big source of income", Vega said.

Another adult performer, Mary Moody, has started a campaign to raise awareness about how Visa and MasterCard’s decision has affected people like her. Moody claims the move only stops verified adult legal sex workers from earning an income. "It doesn’t help victims in any way, it doesn’t help anyone. It only creates victims”, she said, noting that the ban wouldn’t solve the problem of illegal content.

​Some sex workers believe that the decision to "defund" Pornhub had nothing to do with illegal content, but was motivated by a campaign by a Christian advocacy organisation, Exodus Cry, which, among other things, seeks to reduce demand for commercial sex.

"The credit card block is the result of the campaigning by religiously-motivated groups like Exodus Cry", claimed porn star Valentina Nappi. "The real target of these groups is not to help victims or fight illegal content on the Internet, but to ban all forms of adult material".

MasterCard’s Executive Chairman Ajay Banga insisted that the decision was only based on legal concerns and had nothing to do with morality.

What Are the Allegations Against Pornhub?

In the article in The New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof said the adult film website was "infested" with illegal content – child abuse, rape-related videos, and footage featuring underage performers. His expose also included interviews with underage victims who appeared in such videos. Kristof called on credit card companies to stop doing business with Pornhub.

Pornhub described the claims as "irresponsible and flagrantly untrue". However, it deleted videos that had been uploaded by unverified users and began to allow only certified users to upload content.

"Unverified users are now banned from uploading content - a policy no other platform has put in place, including Facebook, which reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material over the last three years", said Pornhub in a statement.
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