May 07, 2021 09:38 AM EDT
Benjamin Nolot and Exodus Cry Are Fighting Human Trafficking
Recently, Deidre Pujols, Founder of Strike Out Slavery, sat down with Benjamin Nolot, Founder and CEO of Exodus Cry, to have an in-depth discussion about the perils of human tracking. The two had previously shared stages at the United Nations and the White House. Nolot presented the latest news relevant to the topic and shared the efforts of Exodus Cry to help end these horrendous occurrences.
A Fight Against Evil from the Beginning
The conversation begins with Nolot sharing his mission to put an end to human trafficking. Nolot's interest in fighting this cause began as an early adolescent, after viewing the film, "The Accused." The movie shares a story of a woman who is publicly gang-raped in a bar and fights for justice against her attackers. While growing up, the concerns of inequality between men and women and the fact that some men act as predators towards women, haunted him. He shares how deeply troubled he felt, and still feels, that people experience rape.
As he prepared to put his feelings into action, he met a widowed woman who supported his cause and invested in his vision. This helped fund the organization and allowed Exodus Cry to focus on fighting human trafficking. After forming Exodus Cry, Nolot spent the next four years traveling the world, practicing investigative journalism and exploring issues that relate to global sex trafficking. He produced a documentary called, "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls," which helped get the story of human trafficking out into the world.
Exodus Cry operates by making a substantial impact on two fronts. They perform direct intervention in human trafficking situations and they also work towards abolition and a world where this systemic injustice is brought to a permanent halt. That has turned into 13 years of fighting human trafficking.
Filmmaking to Shed Light
One major contribution Nolot has made in the fight against human trafficking is shining light on the global nature of the problem. He is able to use his skills as a documentarian to do this, by capturing and sharing the tragic nature of the issue.
Nolot achieved success with "Nefarious" due to the contributions and bravery of survivors who were willing to share their stories. Perspectives from trafficking survivors helped to explain some of the root causes of human trafficking, while illustrating the possibility of true redemption.
After "Nefarious," Nolot set out to create a documentary to take an in-depth look at the sexual landscape of America and found a deeply integrated system of exploitation and assault. "Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution" is available on Netflix and explores the ways culture in the US can lead to horrific violations. Nolot plans to follow up with several more documentaries about the porn industry and its role in fueling human trafficking.
The Problem with Pornography
Nolot discusses some of the latest news coming from "Big Porn." The pornography industry is 90% dominated by a single company called MindGeek, which owns Pornhub. The problem with pornography, Nolot explains, is manifold.
The reason why it has created a crisis situation in human trafficking is due to mismanagement and abuse that is led by companies like MindGeek. The loose guidelines that these companies follow do not require the disclosure of age or consent verification from participants in their videos. There have been instances with porn content that is documentation of legitamate rape of underage teens and children. Victims of these videos are forced to relive their trauma repeatedly as it is viewed around the globe by millions.
In his mission to put an end to this cycle, Nolot has seen some real results. Exodus Cry created Traffickinghub which, to date, has gathered more than 2 million signatures demanding change. This has put extreme pressure on the industry and helped inspire a New York Times Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof. Due to the advocacy of Exodus Cry and the community following the article's release, MindGeek deleted 10 million videos and removed their download button feature from their website. These website updates resulted in MindGeek removing 80% of their existing content. Nolot explains the indication of how deep the problem really is with so much more to be done.
Social Media Threats on the Horizon
Nolot and Deirdre Pujols then discuss how social media has become a potential contributor to creating a culture of exploitation. Instagram allows content that is becoming more and more sexual. The platform has seen much improvement, including better regulations and more robust reporting features. However, new threats are constantly appearing in the digital world, including a new site called OnlyFans, that became a trend as economic difficulties arose from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is just another way in which exploitation is being further encouraged in our society.
Nolot explains how dangerous prostitution is and that consensual sex can only occur when there is desire on both sides. With prostitution, only one person, "the John," desires the sex, while the sex worker (or prostitute) is paid for the crime that occurs. Nolot has dedicated much of the last decade to speaking with prostitutes and former prostitutes to better understand the dangers that surround this.
A Call to Action
For those who want to help in the fight against human trafficking, there are many opportunities for involvement. Nolot recommends educating oneself through individual research and noted a few resources as a guide to those looking for more information on human trafficking. These include Exodus Cry's podcast, Rachel Moran's book, "Paid For" and Gail Dines' book, "Pornland." Exodus Cry will also be releasing a book later this year and the two following documentaries are available to watch on YouTube and Netflix respectively, "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls" and "Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution."
At the moment, Nolot's main focus is putting pressure on the Canadian Parliament. MindGeek is headquartered in Montreal and, by taking action, Nolot is confident that legislation can make a real difference. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will be assaulted during college alone. Human trafficking, and the culture that promotes it, is an issue that affects everyone. It's a problem that we must work towards ending. Nolot and Exodus Cry are committed to creating a world where prostitution, rape, and human trafficking exist only in the past tense. Find out more about Benjamin Nolot, Exodus Cry, and their mission on their website: https://exoduscry.com.
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