Violence and rape in the French porn industry, ‘but the porn ban is not a solution’

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  • Frank Renout

    corresponding France

  • Frank Renout

    corresponding France

A large-scale and widely supported offensive against abuse in the porn industry has been launched in France. These include violence, rape and sex with minors.

The French Senate spent six months talking to producers, actresses and pornography experts. The result was a tough 200-page report. French police searched the perpetrators and victims online and arrested people. Justice investigated and came with official charges.

More than twenty men – pornographic producers and actors – were charged. Some of them were taken into custody pending trial. More than sixty former porn actresses filed charges against the men.

Sexual assault

“The suspects are accused of rape, solicitation of prostitution, human trafficking and in one case: torture,” said Céline Piques of the feminist organisation. Dare feminism. “It is truly unique what is happening, for France and Europe, but perhaps for the whole world.”

‘Camille’ was a victim of rape as a porn actress. She tells anonymously how she ended up in the porn business and how she was abused there:

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‘I said no, but they held me and forced me’

The reason for many of the initiatives lies in one reserve by journalist Robin d’Angelo. You worked undercover on the film sets of pornographic companies for over a year. And he said he was shocked by the amount of violence he saw. His book was published in 2018, when the MeToo movement was in full swing. Sexual violence was therefore high on the agenda, even in France.

Feminist organizations took the book to the Justice Department. Everything was black and white, d’Angelo had seen the crimes with his own eyes and therefore a trial was needed, Osez le Féminisme said among others.

“There is a lot of evidence of crimes. Because many of those crimes in porn can simply be seen: the videos are still circulating on the Internet,” says Céline Piques.

Violence is used in about 90 percent of the porn movies we’ve studied.

Senator Laurence Rossignol

The French police, and especially the cybercrime department, got to work. Two French porn producers appeared. Producer Pascal Ollitrault was arrested at the end of 2020. He is suspected of rape and prostitution.

In June of this year, the founder Michel Piron of the porn site Jacquie and Michel indicted. He allegedly forced women to perform sexual acts before and during the recordings to which they had not consented. In total, more than twenty men are in the dock. A trial is not expected until next year.

False pretexts

“Nearly a third of all Internet traffic is porn. And about 90% of the pornographic films we studied contain violence,” says Senator Laurence Rossignol. She participated in it inquiry by the French Senate to abuse.

Women are often brought in as actresses under false pretenses. For example, it is promised that the film is only for a limited audience, while the images can be viewed worldwide via porn sites. Once on the film set, women often have to do as they are told. There is no point in resisting or protesting: the women are then forced with physical force, according to the senate report. The complaining actresses are later threatened and intimidated.

No prohibition

“Even porn movies have become increasingly violent,” says Rossignol. “Porn producers want to keep their audience happy. But porn consumers always need new emotions to turn them on. That’s why the movie scenes are made more violent.”

In France, around 19 million people watch online porn every month – almost a third of the population. This includes 1.2 million children under the age of 15. “Children can be traumatized, they can engage in violent or risky behavior, and they can have distorted views on sexuality,” the Senate report said.

Critics often advocate a complete ban on pornography. But Osez le Féminisme and Senator Rossignol do not support it. “The law simply has to be applied,” says Céline Piques. “If criminal offenses such as rape or sex with minors are committed during the filming, then this can simply be addressed with current criminal law measures.”

Open letter

The various investigations have put the French porn industry on the defensive. The great porn producer Dorcel came up with a ‘code of conduct’ for everyone on the film set. It is stated, for example, that filmed sexual acts must always involve the mutual consent of the participating parties.

A collective of porn producers and actresses, among others, came up with a open letter in the newspaper Le Monde. “Pornography is not necessarily always criminal,” they wrote. “As prostitutes, we are convinced that it is possible to produce quality porn responsibly. Banning porn is not a solution.”

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