Advocates blast Pornhub giving free service to Italians on lockdown for COVID-19

Amid an ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a pornography video hosting site that many are presently urging be shut down entirely is offering free premium service to Italian users.

In Europe, Italy has borne the brunt of the global COVID-19 outbreak and the southern European nation has been on lockdown for several days. As a result of the largely incapacitated nation, smut giant Pornhub announced it is opening its vault of videos for the whole country and is donating March proceeds to ModelHub, reports say.

The video site has faced a wave of scrutiny in recent weeks as a petition, launched by the prostitution abolitionist group Exodus Cry's Laila Mickelwait, has garnered over half a million signatures and continues to grow. Mickelwait and others have blasted the site for allowing videos to be uploaded that are incidents of human trafficking and the rape of minors, thus facilitating and profiting off of the abuse.

"It is no surprise that Pornhub admitted to verifying the trafficked 15-year-old girl who was sexually abused in 58 videos on its site. The official Twitter account for Pornhub wrote in response to the breaking story that the 15-year-old girl had been a verified member. After quickly realizing it had just admitted to assisting in her being trafficked, the account deleted the tweets, but the evidence of the admission was cached and still exists," Mikelwait notes in her petition.

The site is now reportedly publishing coronavirus-themed pornography, including a video that features a healthcare worker wearing a hazmat suit.

Critics point out that Pornhub is owned by tech company Mindgeek, a Canadian outfit officially registered in Luxembourg, and is using the pandemic to gather and monetize data, that there is nothing charitable about their offering of "free" premium access, and that it is yet another way of exploiting people’s misery and weakness in a hard time for their own financial gain.

Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, blasted the move.

"At the same time a U.S. Senator is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Pornhub for its ‘alleged involvement in videos of women and children being raped and sex trafficked,’ Pornhub is shamelessly leveraging Italy’s tragic crisis for its own bottom line. By giving free access to its abusive and exploitative material, Pornhub is causing increased sexual violence and abuse against untold numbers of adults and children. Pornographers will increase their abuse in order to keep up with the demand Pornhub is creating and advertisers will flock to the platform in order to capitalize on the abuse further,” Hawkins said in a statement late last week.

“A battered and contracting economy in Italy will mean more people will be at risk of being forced into the commercial sex trade, either by others in their life or by thinking that it is necessary to provide for their families. Pornhub knows that demand for sexual exploitation is increasing and is unabashedly fueling this fire."

The worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus, has brought normal life to a halt in many nations and has created widespread panic-buying of food and other items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

By Wednesday the number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy rose by 475 in one day to approximately 3,000, the largest increase since the outbreak began.

As of Thursday, there are more than 41,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,400 deaths in Italy.

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