French Senate report denounces sexual abuse in porn industry

Sep 27, 2022, 4:49 PM | Updated: Sep 28, 2022, 12:20 pm
From the left, Senate members Laurence Rossignol, Alexandra Borchio-Fontimp, Annick Billon, co-auth...

From the left, Senate members Laurence Rossignol, Alexandra Borchio-Fontimp, Annick Billon, co-author and president of the Senate's delegation, and Laurence Cohen present a report denouncing sexual abuse in the porn industry at the French Senate, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Paris. Sexual and physical abuse in France's porn industry is "systemic" and lawmakers should better regulate the production of videos and protect children who are "heavily exposed" to the content, according to the French Senate report. (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

(AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

PARIS (AP) — Sexual and physical abuse in France’s porn industry is “systemic” and lawmakers should better regulate the production of videos and protect children who are “heavily exposed” to the content, according to a French Senate report released Wednesday.

The report, titled “Hell Behind the Scenes,” was the first prepared for the French parliament to focus on the porn industry, which the authors described as “predatory.”

A former porn performer who now works as a filmmaker welcomed the long-overdue look at the industry, though she said it doesn’t do enough to hold platforms that distribute violent porn accountable.

During six months of research, the Senate’s delegation for women’s rights and gender equality heard from over 50 people, including some involved in the industry, women’s rights activists and victims.

“Both the actual volume of pornographic contents accessible to all and their very nature have contributed to make violent sexual acts against women banal,” the report’s authors wrote.

“Sexual, physical and verbal abuses are widespread in porn, making them systemic. They are not simulated but very real for the women who are being filmed,” they added.

In the past two decades, pornography has massively developed as global video platforms multiplied and social media helped share content.

A police investigation into alleged rape, human trafficking and pimping in France’s porn industry has called attention to abuse in the business. Dozens of alleged victims have come forward in two separate cases linked to a major video platform and France’s leading amateur porn site.

The investigation revealed that the consent of women was not being asked or respected in many occasions.

The former porn actress, known by her performing name, Nikita Bellucci, was among those who spoke to the senators because “for once, people working in the porn industry were given a voice,” she told The Associated Press. Bellucci would not disclose her full identity to protect her children’s privacy.

Bellucci — who has worked in the porn industry for more than a decade in France, Eastern Europe and the U.S. — said she was proud of her job yet stood in the front line to denounce how women are targeted by abuse in the industry.

She recalled with much emotion in her voice how, in the early stage of her career, her “consent (was) abolished” while performing a scene. It took her ten years to realize what happened because she believed the wrong idea that “a porn actress can’t be abused because she chose to do this work.”

The Senate report aims to alert the government and the broader public to the huge scale of the problem, its authors said. They noted the “massive, ordinary and toxic” viewing of porn by children, despite French law requiring viewers to be at least 18 years old.

The report found that 90% of pornographic scenes include violence and that two thirds of children aged 14 and less have seen pornographic content — voluntarily or not.

“We must stop having a dated, distorted, watered-down view of porn. Porn today includes violent, degrading, humiliating content,” Sen. Annick Billon, co-author and president of the Senate’s delegation, said.

“Scenes in which a man, most often several men, up to 50, inflict physical and sexual abuse on women have become standard,” she added.

Billon and the other delegation members issued 23 recommendations for enforcing current laws and introducing new regulations.

They include making it a criminal offense to incite the committing of a rape in the context of the porn industry, issuing “dissuasive” fines to make it more difficult for minors to access porn and requiring age-verification mechanisms.

Sen. Laurence Rossignol, report co-author and a former minister in charge of women’s rights, said the two major cases being investigated by police highlighted some of the industry’s methods, including “an initial rape” to “break” women, she said. “That’s the same method as in prostitution rings.”

To withdraw videos from the internet, producers require women to pay 3,000 to 5,000 euros ($2,900-4,800) — ten times the fee they were paid for shooting them, the report said.

Rossignol said policies to fight abuse in the porn industry must come as an additional step in the wake of the #MeToo movement that made a political issue of sexual abuse.

“What is shocking to us is that when it’s about fighting terrorism online, our legal arsenal is useful and efficient. When it’s about violence against women, it’s not efficient and not applied,” Rossignol said.

For Bellucci, the report came a bit too late — yet the move is positive. She praised the recommendation to reinforce sex education of teenagers, especially at school. “We now live in a society that’s hyper-sexualized by the internet and social media. It is very important to address these topics,” said the 32-year-old mother of two.

“What we’re asking for, above all, is a legal framework. And being actually protected,” Bellucci said. As a porn producer and director, she explained how she takes care of the actors, discussing what practices will be performed and requesting their consent at every stage.

Other countries have tried to regulate online porn but face challenges. Efforts in Britain to tighten age verification on porn sites have run up against privacy concerns.

In the U.S., legislation seeking to remove tech platforms’ traditional immunity for violations of laws related to online child sexual-abuse material was approved earlier this year by a key Senate committee. It has faced substantial pushback, however, including from some liberal Democratic lawmakers.

A new law enacted this month in California targets “cyber flashing,” in which victims receive unsolicited sexually graphic material, often from strangers. People who receive the material by text, email, app or other electronic means will have the legal right to sue the sender.

___

Marcy Gordon in Washington and Kelvin Chan in London contributed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were...
Associated Press

Idaho police seek car seen near site where 4 students killed

Police are asking for help finding the occupant of a car that was seen near where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death last month, saying that person could have "critical information" about the case.
20 hours ago
murders...
Associated Press

Appeals court upholds most Eyman campaign finance violations

A Washington state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld most of the campaign finance violations that longtime anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman was found liable for last year.
20 hours ago
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nes...
Associated Press

No northern giant hornets found in 2022 in Washington state

Citizen trapping of northern giant hornets in northwest Washington ended Nov. 30 without any confirmed sightings of the hornets this year, state officials said Tuesday.
20 hours ago
South Korean Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho, center, speaks during a news conference at the governm...
Associated Press

South Korea widens back-to-work orders on striking truckers

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government expanded its back-to-work orders Thursday against thousands of cargo truck drivers who are staging a nationwide walkout over freight fare issues, saying a prolonged strike could inflict “deep scars” on the country’s economy. The “work start” orders on steel and fuel truckers were inevitable because the strike […]
20 hours ago
Peter Møller, center, attorney and co-founder of the Danish Korean Rights Group, submits the docum...
Associated Press

South Korea’s truth commission to probe foreign adoptions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission will investigate the cases of dozens of South Korean adoptees in Europe and the United States who suspect their origins were falsified or obscured during a child export frenzy in the mid- to late-1900s. The decision Thursday opens what could be South Korea’s most […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper watches during warm ups before an NFL football game bet...
Associated Press

Panthers owner settles tax fight over failed practice space

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina county where Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper started building and then abandoned a new practice facility has reached a settlement over $21 million in sales tax money given to the NFL team. Tepper will pay back the money, and York County agreed its dispute was totally resolved with […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
French Senate report denounces sexual abuse in porn industry