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Help Gain Justice for Survivor Bekah Charleston! Stop Sexual Exploitation Now!

Bekah Charleston is a survivor.

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The youngest of six children, she grew up in a loving home in Keller, Texas. Her parents have been married for 57 years. As a little girl, Bekah loved soccer, school, and cheerleading, and looked forward to going to church every week with her family.

But it took just one horrible event to turn her idyllic childhood into a living nightmare.

At just 14 years old, Bekah was raped, shattering her innocence and her life. Feeling immense shame and fear, she refused to tell anyone, including her loving family, about what happened. Like many survivors of sexual assault, she blamed herself for the crime that was committed against her.

Alone and afraid, she turned to drugs and acting out in various ways to cope with the trauma from what she had experienced. Three years later, at the age of 17, she ran away from her family and loving home, exchanging that secure environment for the harsh life of a new home on the streets.

It was there where she thought she met her rescuer — her “knight in shining armor.”

Her “knight” was an aspiring magician in his twenties. At least that was the story he told Bekah. He promised to take care of her. Being young, vulnerable, and afraid, Bekah fell for all his lies.

First, he became her boyfriend. Then, he started to incrementally establish absolute control over every aspect of her life. Bekah moved in with him and was quickly introduced to a vicious cycle of copious drug consumption, including hallucinogens, which turned her life into a confused blur.

The drug use was followed by punching, kicking, and beatings. Sadly, as is similar with many victims of abuse, Bekah felt he loved her. Instead, he only saw her as a product to be sold, bought, and consumed.

Her rescuer, her “knight in shining armor” was, in reality, a trafficker who took her across state lines to Nevada, where the state’s practice of legalized prostitution allows sex trafficking to be openly practiced, resulting in Bekah’s abuse escalating even further. Her trafficker then moved her to Las Vegas, placing her in one of Nevada’s most “famous” legal brothels where she was held as a virtual captive. Bekah was not allowed to turn down any sex buyer for fear of being kicked out and beaten by her trafficker who also received all the money she was paid for providing sex.

For ten years, Bekah endured this sexual servitude until her real rescuers came in the form of a church, along with federal authorities, who helped Bekah escape her living nightmare. While   now free from her forced imprisonment, she remained terrified of her trafficker who still threatened to kill her.

Although Bekah will struggle with a lifetime of triggers and emotional scars from the complex trauma, indescribable violence, and sexual abuse she endured, she is a woman of great courage. She now leads national efforts to prevent other young women from experiencing the very type of exploitation she suffered as well as helping women escape these abusive situations.

With the backing of the NCOSE Law Center, Bekah is going to court and asking that the state of Nevada be held accountable under the law. The NCOSE Law Center filed a suit on her behalf and one other survivor to sue Nevada for creating, promoting, and advertising the environment that made her abuse possible — an environment that made the state not only a magnet for trafficked women but also a jackpot for those who profit from sexual exploitation. Bekah says in a powerful video:

Forty-eight years ago, prostitution was legalized in Nevada. It was a social experiment. That experiment has failed. Women and children have paid the price. Nevada has the largest sex trade (illegal and legal) of any state in the country. Sixty-three percent higher than the next highest state. Nevada ranks in the top 10 for trafficked and exploited youth. It’s time to end prostitution and trafficking in Nevada.

NCOSE could not agree more. Just like you, we cannot hear stories like Bekah’s and do nothing. We must stop this gross abuse and exploitation of vulnerable young women like her. It is her story, and the tragic stories of all the women who have been trafficked and exploited in the Silver State, that led NCOSE to name Nevada to our annual Dirty Dozen List last year.

These stories also shed light on the patterns and realities of human trafficking and show why we must act now to stop more tragedies before they occur.

That is why I am writing you today. Will you join with the NCOSE Law Center to hold the state of Nevada accountable and protect innocent young women from the horrors of the state’s sanctioned sex trafficking?

But if we are to be successful in stopping the exploitation of young women like Bekah, and all the others who have fallen or could fall prey to being sex trafficked, we need the necessary resources to file these lawsuits and win. Those resources are your generosity, passion, and partnership. Equipped with these resources, we are confident that we can defeat the powerful forces the commercial sex industry, including Nevada’s legal brothel system, with its deep pockets and long-held traditions, has its disposal.

Bekah’s story also serves to highlight another key part of this exploitation — one that is often overlooked by the media and others concerned with human trafficking — the intersection of trafficking and prostitution.

The simple answer to stopping trafficking is this: without the men looking to buy women in prostitution (the demand), there would not be a need for traffickers to supply victims.

We are at a critical time. Occasionally, we are faced with landmark opportunities that have the potential to change the world. This is one of them.

We can strike at the heart of so much needless sexual exploitation and suffering by making an aggressive strike against one of the hotbeds of this endless and tragic sexual demand. Nevada’s sex tourism industry has created an unquenchable demand, one that requires more and younger women each year to satisfy the ravenous hunger of commercial sex buyers. Many young women, like Bekah and the other plaintiff in this case, have been or are being brought across Nevada state line against their will, all to satisfy this demand.

©National Center for Sexual Exploitation. All rights reserved.

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How Cissy Steele Groomed Jane Doe

Cissy Steele was using the internet to disguise herself as a talent agent from Royal Loyalty Management who was looking for models and actresses when she came across Jane Doe (not her real name). Steele then proceeded to prey upon Jane Doe by intentionally cultivating a sense of trust and building a false relationship. Steele reached out to Jane Doe online and offered her lucrative acting and modeling opportunities. After communicating, Steele convinced Jane Doe to take a modeling opportunity with the promise of making Doe into a successful model and actress. Steele manipulated Doe to go a step further and move into Steele’s home with the reassurance that this move would benefit Doe’s supposed new career.

Online Grooming Turns Into Sex Trafficking Situation

Once Jane Doe was ensconced in Steele’s house, Steele furthered her deception of Doe by setting up several faux modeling photoshoots. After a few months, Steele began verbally degrading Doe and telling Doe that the only way she had a chance at becoming a lucrative actress or model was through pornographic “acting.” When Jane Doe resisted this pressure, Steele began using psychological manipulation, direct coercion, intimidation, threats, and physical violence against Doe including threatening to kill Doe’s dog and harm her family. In the end Steele managed to effectively imprison Jane Doe and coerce her into commercial sex acts with men at various hotels in several states. All the money made from Jane Doe’s sexual exploitation was immediately pocketed by Steele.

From there, Steele also trafficked Jane Doe to multiple pornography production companies in California and Nevada including Diabolic Video Productions, Black Ice Ltd., Zero Tolerance Entertainment, Third Degree Films, and Elegant Angel, Inc.  All of the pornography producers directly paid Steele for Jane Doe’s participation in the videos despite clear signs that Doe was being trafficked.

Pornography Production Companies Complicit in Crime

The pornography production companies distributed the videos of Jane Doe to a multitude of internet pornography providers. As a result, the online porn providers illegally profited from the sex trafficking of Jane Doe through advertisements on their websites as well as through viewers’ subscription fees.

Eventually, with the help of a friend, Jane Doe escaped from Cissy Steele’s home and control and began a new life. Despite Jane Doe’s many efforts to have the videos taken down, her videos remain on several online sites to this day.

Legal Argument Filed on Behalf of Jane Doe

Cissy Steele, the pornography production studios, and the internet pornography websites violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) which prohibits anyone from knowingly using force, fraud, and coercion to entrap victims into commercial sex acts and profiting off of their exploitation.

Accordingly, Jane Doe has now sued Cissy Steele, the pornography production companies, and the online pornography providers which continue to show and sell videos of her sexual abuse and exploitation against her will. The case, filed on September 24, 2020, is in federal district court in San Diego.

As horrific as this case is, it is not an anomaly. Countless Jane Does are trafficked and exploited by the pornography production industry and internet pornography providers. Jane Doe repeatedly attempted to have her sex trafficking videos removed to no avail and there are websites that continue to profit off of her sexual abuse and exploitation to this day. The same is the case for myriad survivors who find their sexual abuse images and videos on internet pornography websites and are afflicted with the paralysis of not being able to remove the degrading and re-traumatizing content. As long as someone is willing to pay for this content, pornography production companies and internet pornography providers have proven more than willing to provide it—no matter how violent, dangerous, and degrading the content may be.

Jane Doe is Not the Only Victim

Take the case of Mia Khalifa as another example.

In 2015, Mia Khalifa mistakenly signed a contract with a pornography production studio and resigned after two weeks. The contract she signed gave the company control over the websites and domains that contained her stage name. Although Khalifa has been out of the pornography business for over five years, the pornography production company is still promoting her videos and creating an illusion that she is still engaged in the commercial sex industry even though she has worked hard to have her videos removed from pornography sites. This reality has made it difficult for Khalifa to find employment in other fields, which only furthers the reach and extent of the exploitation.

Like many others, Khalifa’s attempts to remove her videos have been met by indifference from the pornography companies. “Pornography companies prey on callow young women and trap them legally into contracts where they’re vulnerable,” Khalifa noted in comments published by The Guardian. She also stated that during every filmed scene she would black out, yet no one on the set seemed to notice or offer any assistance: “The abuse and exploitation of young women is normalized in pornography, and if you don’t comply, you’re threatened, beaten, and intimidated.”

Pornography Producers Are Sexual Exploiters

Whether or not there is a contract in place, the sexual exploitation and abuse that comes from pornography production studios and internet pornography providers is degrading, traumatizing, and crippling. These abusive companies know they are profiting off of the sexual exploitation of women who have been beaten down, manipulated, often drugged, and are in no condition to acquiesce to such exploitation. The pornography industry’s lack of regulation hinders many survivors from fully healing, as they are continuously haunted by the existence of videos of their abuse living on in the Internet.

The Hope Jane Doe v. Cissy Steele Gives

The Cissy Steel lawsuit is the first federal lawsuit against a pornography producer and online pornography website for federal anti-trafficking violations. We hope this lawsuit and many others like it will hold pornography producers and internet pornography providers accountable for the damage, abuse, and exploitation of the untold numbers of women and children trafficked in the pornography industry.

Read NCOSE Law’s Amended Complaint here.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center offers survivors of pornography-related abuse a way to seek justice. More information can be found at: https://sexualexploitationlawsuits.com/.

COLUMN BY

Madison Van Oss

LEGAL ASSISTANT
Madison is the Legal Assistant for the Law Center at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Madison supports the Law Center and its quest to bring justice to survivors of the sex trade industry through civil and criminal litigation. Madison brings with her a master’s degree in Homeland Security, several years of professional experience in the corporate world, as well as strong desire to protect and defend individuals against sexual abuse and exploitation.

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EDITORS NOTE: This NCOSE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s Arrest is a Step Toward Justice for Survivors of Epstein’s Abuse

Ever since Jeffrey Epstein’s untimely and unjust death in August 2019, survivors, advocates, and many others have been asking an important question regarding those who participated in the sexual abuse and exploitation perpetrated by Epstein:

Will justice be served?

Due to Epstein’s connections with a vast web of wealthy and influential individuals, many have worried that those involved in suspected crimes would not be pursued after his death.

We are glad to see that justice is still being pursued.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s confidante and accomplice, was arrested on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Since she was directly involved in Epstein’s affairs, this is an important development for survivors and seems to indicate that justice may yet be served to the individuals involved in these abuses despite Epstein’s death.

What Filthy Rich Got Right, Wrong About Jeffrey Epstein and His Crimes

Recently, the Netflix documentary Filthy Rich rocketed to the top of Netflix’s charts. We anticipated this with great excitement due to the fact that, although they did not get their day in court with Epstein himself, survivors would be able to share their stories and speak publicly.

The documentary portrayed and reinforced several important points: the wealth of evidence of Epstein’s trafficking and rape crimes, the fact that many men with financial means perpetrate and get away with a lot of sex crimes, and the failure of systems that should have prevented these crimes and punished perpetrators. Importantly, victim-survivors were given a platform to speak out and share their stories.

However, Filthy Rich missed some important pieces as well. Not all offenders of sexual crimes and abuse are prominent or wealthy. Nude images of victims, likely young girls, were shown in the film. The stories shared by victim-survivors included prurient details of their abuse and exploitation and, by doing so, they may have been re-traumatized by those trying to help them tell their story.

Despite its shortcomings, however, the documentary made a meaningful attempt at centering survivor voices. When these realities are recounted from survivors’ perspectives, that is meaningful and empowering. Especially in cases where perpetrators were/are wealthy and have held outsized power in exploitative scenarios, it is necessary to make space for victims to be heard.

The Death of Jeffrey Epstein Was Not the End of the Story

While we must be survivor-centered, we also need to be offender-focused.

This means that, in order to support the survivors’ struggle for justice, we must call out all the collaborators. This includes those who participated in abuse, those who facilitated it, and the legal system that failed to act on the overwhelming evidence presented. Effectively combating sex trafficking means understanding and ending demand for commercial sex.

Filthy Rich made a foray into this territory by questioning the lack of action by prosecutors and examining the generous deal that Epstein received. However, in the end, it was an unsatisfactory exploration that fell short of meaningful investigation. Discovering that Epstein’s original deal included immunity even for unnamed collaborators made it seem as though the deal was designed by collaborators for collaborators—this thread must not go unfollowed.

Police, probation officers, corrections officers, the US Attorneys’ office, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, as well as participants, neighbors, observers, staff, and countless unnamed others permitted these abuses to happen again and again. It was a tragedy of failed systems of accountability. A change in the culture and systems that permitted this must include a deep examination of the myriad personal and systemic failures that have occurred.

Thankfully, we believe Filthy Rich was just a start. Over time, as more investigation uncovers the depth and breadth of Epstein’s web of exploitation, we believe that other perpetrators will have to face justice. Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest reminds and gives us hope that justice is coming for victim-survivors.

“There are others who facilitated or participated in his web of sexual exploitation who must still be brought to justice,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE.

By arresting Maxwell and continuing to look into this case, some measure of justice can be recovered for survivors. We hope that the truth about predators who remain unidentified or shielded by power and influence will fully come to light and that restorative justice will come to fruition.

You can read Ghislaine Maxwell’s full indictment here.


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Cosmopolitan Magazine Promotes Sexting and Self Pornification

Donna Rice HughesDonna Rice Hughes, President & CEO of Enough Is Enough® Making the Internet safer for children and families writes:

Recently, Cosmopolitan Magazine wrote a “how to” on sending the “perfect” sext. No, this isn’t a joke. You read correctly. You and I know there’s no such thing as a perfect sext. And deep down they know it, too.

They know full well that preteen and teen girls are within their demographic buying audience. They also bank on the fact that Cosmo is typically in full view of minor children, along with Time Magazine and People, and is not segregated like Playboy types of mags unavailable for browsing or sale to youth. While Cosmo continues to push the envelope on soft porn with how to articles on having titillating illicit sex etc., they really crossed the line by promoting and normalizing the dangerous activity of sexting.

What Cosmo neglects to mention is that:

  • Sexting and self pornification among youth are at crisis levels
  • 62% of teens and young adults have received a sext (Barna 2016)
  • 40% of teens and young adults have sent a sext (Barna 2016)
  • 15% of teen sexters sent texts to someone who they just met (The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2008)
  • 44% of teens say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient. (The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2008)
  • Nude and sexually explicit photos of anyone under the age of 17/18 years old is considered under the law to be child pornography and can lead to federal prosecution by those who produce and distribute these images. Many unsuspecting teens have found themselves on the sex offenders’ registry.
  • There are no take backs online and nothing is truly private. Reputations and lives have been ruined when sexting goes bad … when a sexted photo or video goes public and or viral. Revenge porn, sextortion, and cyberbullying are harmful consequences that lead to devastation.

Youth who are coming of age and sexually curious in a pornified culture rewards the pornographic impulse (Barna). The Cosmo article encourages self pornification and paints a picture in the minds of young men and women that it is exciting and acceptable to degrade themselves, that their worth and value are tied up in their sexuality, and that it is okay for them to lower expectations they hold for themselves and each other. That it is somehow okay for them to allow others to strip away their dignity by sending sexts.

Doesn’t Cosmo know that they are destroying the dignity of the human person? Do they even care? Well, I do, and I know you do, too.

That’s why we’re launching a #NoPerfectSext letter to the editor campaign. This campaign has one goal: to get Cosmo Magazine to stop normalizing the self-pornification practices that harm youth like sexting.

We need you to do three things:

  1. Tweet to Cosmopolitan. You can borrow this tweet: @Cosmopolitansexting isn’t normal, & it degrades our children. It’s harmful. #NoPerfectSext.
  2. Tweet to Joanna Coles, Cosmo’s Editor-in-Chief. You can borrow this tweet: @JoannaColes, sexting isn’t normal, & it degrades our children. It’s harmful. #NoPerfectSext.
  3. Send Cosmo an e-mail at inbox@Cosmopolitan.com asking them why they think sexting is normal.
  4. Learn and share the following information about what you can do to prevent your children and grandchildren from sexting

Making the Internet Safer for Children and Families logoABOUT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The Enough Is Enough® (EIE) mission is to Make the Internet Safer for Children and Families. We are dedicated to continue raising public awareness about the dangers of Internet pornography and sexual predators, and advance solutions that promote equality, fairness and respect for human dignity with shared responsibility between the public, technology, and the law. We stand for freedom of speech as defined by the Constitution of the United States; for a culture where all people are respected and valued; for a childhood with a protected period of innocence; for healthy sexuality; and for a society free from sexual exploitation.

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Men and Boys can no longer be Invisible Victims

Upon returning to the office after hosting a successful press conference announcing our Cosmo Harms Minors campaign about 18 months ago, I received two phone calls that really changed my perspective on how we are addressing these issues. The first call was a young high school student, who rather shyly explained how grateful he is for our efforts, but he urged us to address the impact that things like Cosmopolitan magazine and other media has on young men. He spoke about the peer pressure that he feels to act as males portrayed in this media do and about his own self-esteem issues as a result. Just about an hour later, another young man called with a similar plea to us. I was completely dumbfounded.

You see, I often talk about the harms of this media to young women’s self-esteem, to their physical and emotional development, and to the choices they make. I have largely focused on how bad porn culture is for girls and women, but after hearing from these guys my heart ached over the fact that I was forgetting the fight for their dignity as well.

Just about a week later, Associate Professor Joseph Prud’homme of Washington College and a student from Georgetown asked for a meeting with out staff. They came with an agenda–again pointing out that we had left out the harm happening to boys around the country.

These bold men were the catalyst to changing some of our messaging and set us on a course to develop new way of waging this war. 

Last Friday, after months of preparation with Washington College, we hosted a consultation meeting on the sexual objectification and exploitation of boys and men. Seventeen experts and survivors came from all over the country (and one from Israel!) to present research and key perspectives on how young men are affected by our current culture. It was astounding. My heart still aches for the world that our young boys are inheriting, but I am encouraged that we will be able to lead the charge in the movement and stop ignoring these “invisible” victims. We know now, they are plain to see if one has the eyes to look.

I can’t share details with you right now, but want you to know that we are working on this issue. We must fight for the dignity of all–BOYS, girls, MEN, women. We at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation are doing all we can to this end.

My simple call to action to you today is: Will you share this article on social media to educate your networks on some of these realities?

RELATED ARTICLE: Men and Boys in Sex Trafficking Overlooked

dawb hawkins

Dawn Hawkins

EDITORS NOTE: This column is by Dawn Hawkins, Vice President and Executive Director, National Center on Sexual Exploitation Director, Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation.

Those readers wishing to donate to help protect and defend our men and boys from sexual exploitation may do so by clicking here.

The United Nations Must Consider This Torture by Haley Halverson

The United Nations must recognize that all individuals have an inherent right to be free from the sexual exploitation, objectification, and violence which are inherently found in prostitution and pornography.

The experiences of physical, mental, and verbal abuse commonly experienced in both pornography and prostitution are consistent with torture and should be addressed accordingly. This is why the National Center on Sexual Exploitation submitted two important reports to help inform the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, as he formulates a thematic report on gender perspectives on torture. These documents, The Gender-Based Torture Found in the Pornography Industry and On a Street Corner Near You: Pimps as Practitioners of Torture, addressed research and precedent in international codes that the UN ought to apply to a formal recognition of pornography and prostitution as forms of torture.

This would not be the first time that the United Nations addressed prostitution and pornography as forms of exploitation.

At the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, it was stated that, “Countries should take effective steps to address the neglect, as well as all types of exploitation and abuse, of children, adolescents and youth, such as abduction, rape and incest, pornography, trafficking, abandonment and prostitution.”(1) The United Nations must continue to build upon this history of recognizing the harms of these interrelated industries.

Due to the advent of the Internet, the problem of pornography has especially escalated to a pervasive and globe scale. An individual in Africa can watch the torture of an American woman, while someone in Germany can be downloading the digital evidence of sexual abuse that occurred in the Middle East.

One of the world’s largest pornographic websites recently released an annual review that revealed statistics on porn consumption by country. By percentage of traffic, the United States was the primary consumer of the videos, followed by the U.K., India, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Italy, Brazil, and Mexico. The violent and sexualized torture that is inherently part of the nature of pornography must be recognized on an international level.

The treatment experienced by female pornography performers and prostituted persons is often identical to the treatment of women who are recognized as torture victims. It is therefore time for the United Nations to take a stand, and to fight for the dignity of all.

DOWNLOAD THE GENDER-BASED TORTURE FOUND IN THE PORNOGRAPHY INDUSTRY REPORT HERE.*

*Trigger warning for descriptions of scenarios and themes in pornography


(1) International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). (1994). 5.9. Retrieved February 02, 2016

ABOUT HALEY HALVERSON

Untitled design-5DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

Haley Halverson joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) as Director of Communications in May of 2015. Haley cares deeply about human rights and the issue of sexual exploitation, particularly regarding those exploited in the sex industry. In her role, Haley acts as a spokesperson for NCOSE and oversees strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, social media marketing, and creative video production.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for Media Research Center. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) where she double majored in Politics and interdisciplinary religious studies, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internship experiences in the DC area.

Since arriving at NCOSE, Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Post, the Washington Times, USA Radio Network, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, the Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

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Cosmopolitan Magazine ‘Pornifies’ Christmas by Lisa Thompson with Dani Bianculli

Few people following the news could have missed the controversy brewing around the Starbuck’s “Christmas” coffee cup. Conspicuously missing from the bright, red cup is any greeting referring to Christmas or any of the holidays associated with this time of year. Whether you take issue with the Starbucks cup or not, the issue that sparked the controversy pales in comparison to the mockery of Christmas and Hanukkah unleashed in the December issue ofCosmopolitan magazine.

For decades Christmas in America has been commercialized (to say the least), but for many it still has a deep and meaningful spiritual significance. While it is fairly easy to differentiate between the secular celebration and festivities, with their emphasis on good feelings, family, brotherly love, and material consumption, from serious and sacred religious traditions, to Cosmopolitan everything must be pornified, even Christmas, and nothing, not even religious expression, will be spared. To Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles and her associates, the holiday season is not simply devoid of spiritual meaning (à la Starbucks), but rather spiritual significance is something to be mocked and creepily sexualized.

In an article entitled “Cosmo’s Sexy Holiday Countdown,” readers are presented a “Sex-Vent” calendar featuring 24 days of ways by which readers can ostensibly “have a merry little XXX-mas.” This is a perversion of the traditional Christmas Advent season, a time in which many Christians make special preparations and engage in spiritual reflection culminating in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Among the many traditions that Christians observe during this time, some keep an Advent calendar to mark and celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. But according to Cosmo, the time leading up to Christmas is just another opportunity for it to proclaim its dogma of anything goes sexuality and hawk sex toys.

In its list of recommended “Sex-Vent” programming, Cosmo’s readers are exhorted to “Roast His Chestnuts,” “Light His Yule Log,” “get your inner voyeur on,” and to ask for “Mrs. Claus’s best friend”—a vibrator. The article also urges readers to “Light His Menorah! . . . Just like the Maccabee’s flame, he’ll last even longer than expected,” and to “Play a game of ‘Sex Dreidel,’”— perversions of the Jewish celebration of lights known as Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. In a world full of so many other distasteful options, Cosmo decided to push the envelope and target the spiritual symbolism held sacred by so many. Let’s face it, Cosmohas no class, and apparently few, if any, scruples.

While it’s not breaking news that Cosmo glamorizes cheap, public, anal, group, and even violent sex, and routinely normalizes pornography and commercial sexual exploitation, doing so in a formula that also profanes religious beliefs and traditions is a new low. Even so, this new sacrilege is not so surprising when one considers that Cosmo is in the business of the profane. Cosmo is, after all, passionately committed to a doctrine that teaches women and girls to believe that achieving “hotness” is the supreme achievement; that women’s purpose is to sexually serve men; that mastering dozens of sex tricks is the path to transcendence; that bondage is liberating. Under Cosmo’s creed, the degree to which girls and women conform to their pornified doctrine is the degree to which they have worth, when tragically the measure by which they master this doctrine is the measure by which they are debased. Some religion.

This got me thinking about the Christmas film classic It’s a Wonderful Life, which presents the story of George Bailey a man whose life choices made an indelible mark for good in the lives of countless residents in the fictional town of Bedford Falls. The story, in part, highlights George’s numerous battles with Mr. Henry Potter, a greedy, unscrupulous man, who is out only for himself. As the story progresses, George experiences a deep, personal crisis through which he is given the miraculous opportunity to see that the health, happiness, and prosperity of Bedford Falls has been saved through his actions; he learns that the community would have turned into “Pottersville”—a town full of corruption and vice—had it not been for his goodness and sacrifices.

This year, we too have been given the opportunity to see into another possible world—the world according to Cosmo. In this issue of Cosmopolitan we encounter yet another seedy, sleazy, exploitive “Pottersville” vision of reality, created by people to whom nothing is sacred except the money they rake in selling America’s girls and young women misleading, commercially-motivated messages that encourage a reckless and harmful sexuality.

ACTION:

This holiday season give a gift to yourself and all the women and girls you care about, by joining our “Cosmo-X-Vent.” From now until Christmas, send a daily tweet or Facebook post to @Cosmopolitan, and December cover model @carrieunderwood, telling Cosmopolitan to stop spewing their pornified sexuality and to keep their XXXs off our bodies and faiths.

Suggested Tweets:

  • @Cosmopolitan you send us smut, but we wish you light, hope, peace & joy. You don’t need XXXs to have a merry Christmas.
  • @Cosmopolitan you send us smut, but we wish you light, hope, peace & joy. You don’t need XXXs to have a happy Hanukkah.
  • @Cosmopolitan hoping you find you don’t need XXXs to find happiness and joy this holiday season.
  • @Cosmopolitan stop pornifying the sacred: our bodies and our faiths.
  • @Cosmopolitan keep your XXXs off our bodies and our faiths.
  • @Cosmopolitan Sex-Vent is creepy and demeaning! Is there anything you won’t sexualize?
  • @Cosmopolitan stop promoting pornified sexuality #cosmoharmsminors
  • @Cosmopolitan your articles promote risky and unhealthy sex to girls and women. Publish more responsible material. #cosmoharmsminors
  • @Cosmopolitan you owe America an apology. Stop pornifying women and our holidays. #cosmoharmsminors
  • @Cosmopolitan read the APA report on the harmful effects of the sexualization of girls: https://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf
  • @Cosmopolitan stop perverting Hanukkah and Christmas!
  • @Cosmopolitan Sex-Vent is tasteless, crass, and crude!
  • @Cosmopolitan we don’t need your Sex-Vent to have fulfilling sex lives.
  • @Cosmopolitan for happier sex life ditch Cosmo.
  • @carrieunderwood Please don’t pose for Cosmo again. They encourage girls and young women to engage in risky sexual behavior #cosmoharmsminors
  • @carrieunderwood You posed for a Cosmo edition that promoted pornified sexuality. Please be more responsible in the future! #cosmoharmsminors
  • @carrieunderwood read the APA report on the harmful sexualization of girls: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx
  • @carrieunderwood Cosmo’s Sex-Vent pornifies Christmas and Hanukkah! Do you support this?
  • @carrieunderwood we don’t need Cosmo’s XXXs to have a merry Christmas.
  • @carrieunderwood Cosmo’s Sex-Vent is tasteless, crass, and crude! Is this also your idea of how to celebrate the holidays?
  • @carrieunderwood Cosmo betrays women’s and pornifies Christmas and Hanukkah. Is this what you stand for?

Lisa L. Thompson

Lisa L. Thompson - 2014 - 2VICE PRESIDENT OF EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Lisa L. Thompson serves as the Vice President of Education and Outreach for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, where she oversees NCOSE’s strategic planning for increased public understanding of sexual exploitation related issues. To this end Lisa conducts analysis, develops research initiatives, and liaises with a wide-range of public officials, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher learning, and academics to generate collaborative action to combat the full spectrum of sexual exploitation especially as pertains to the harms of pornography, stripping, prostitution, and sexual trafficking.

Lisa joins the NCOSE following nearly two years with World Hope International (WHI), where as its Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa administered WHI’s anti-trafficking and sexual-violence recovery programs in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Liberia and Sierra Leone. While working for WHI Lisa also served as a steering committee member of the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST), a collaboration initiative she helped found, and as a reviewer for the Journal of Human Trafficking.

She has written on the subjects of sexual trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation for publications such as Christian History and Biography, Caring, Mutuality, PRISM, andSocial Work and Christianity. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the bookGlobal Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global in which she contributed chapters about the use of torture by pimps, as well as the policy conflicts between sex trafficking abolitionists and HIV/AIDS advocates. She is the co-editor of a special anti-trafficking edition of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work journal Social Work & Christianity and has provided expert testimony to the U.S. Congress. Lisa routinely speaks about sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution, pornography, stripping), and facilitates anti-trafficking training events for a diverse range of audiences.

Additionally, Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters. In that role she pioneered strategies for The Salvation Army to create recovery services for survivors of sexual trafficking and advocated on public policy issues and initiatives related to combating sexual trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Lisa chaired The Salvation Army’s North American Anti-Trafficking Council and directed its Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking. Previous to her arrival at The Salvation Army, Lisa served as Policy Representative for the National Association of Evangelicals’ (NAE) Office for Governmental Affairs in Washington, DC, from 1998 to 2001. While there, she was heavily involved in NAE’s advocacy efforts seeking passage of legislation now known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. She has also worked for consulting firms managing Community Develop Block Grants programs in Kentucky, and taught English as a second language in the People’s Republic of China.

Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Western Kentucky University, and her Master’s degree in Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues from Union Institute and University.

Where do the 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on Sexual Justice?

In light of the public health crisis of pornography, rising rates of campus and military sexual assault, and the prominent issue of human trafficking, America needs a president who will stand for sexual justice.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) released the 2016 Presidential Candidates Survey on Sexual Exploitation today, in an effort to gauge the positions of all presidential candidates regarding the multi-faceted spectrum of sexual harm.

Which candidates will publicly speak about issues like federal obscenity laws, or websites like Backpage.com that profiteer by advertising the sale of people (who are often trafficked) for sex? Which candidates are going to prioritize solving human trafficking, or ensuring restitution for victims of digital media sexual exploitation abuse of children? NCOSE believes in sexual justice – freedom from sexual exploitation, objectification, and violence. It’s vital for the presidential candidates to make their positions known.

ACTION: Ask the candidates to respond to this survey, and to defend dignity, here.

To learn more about this survey, and to view the complete list of questions, visit: http://endsexualexploitation.org/presidentialsurvey/

Why Do People Cheat? The Link Between AshleyMadison and Pornography

Pornography and AshleyMadison are linked in more ways than you might suppose.

As many of us now know, AshleyMadison is a website designed to help people cheat on their significant other without getting caught. Recently, a hacking group leaked the personal data of more than 30 million AshleyMadison users, exposing predominantly married men who have been using the website to have affairs. Those who have been exposed range from top Department of Justice officials to affiliates of pro-family organizations; individuals who, on the surface, would not appear to be likely to have an affair.

Due to these recent events, many individuals are asking: what causes someone to cheat?

While there are many influences that can contribute to a person having an affair, pornography use is a typical, consistent, factor in extramarital affairs.

Pornography has been shown to make its users less satisfied with their existing partner. A 2013 studyPornography is causing a public health crisis-2published in the journal of Social, Psychological and Personality Science has found that people in committed relationships who view pornographic materials are more likely to cheat on their partners than those who don’t.Porn offers users the fantasy of no-strings-attached sexual gratification with multiple extremely attractive partners. Those erotic images, the study found, re-wire the users’ brains to assume that there are a multitude of attractive and willing sexual partners available outside their current relationships. According to researcher Patrick Fagan, PhD, a psychologist and former Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary, pornography use is correlated with an increase in infidelity of more than 300%.

This link between pornography and cheating is not news to AshleyMadison. AshleyMadison has frequently advertised on porn websites, so that stimulated individuals who are looking for the next best thing are encouraged to sign up for the service.

For many viewers of pornography, their need for new sexual excitement does not stop at the screen. Research has shown that porn users develop the need for increased stimuli in order to get the same “high,” similar to drug users. Eventually, many are driven to “act out” what they’ve been watching, and because yesterday’s hardcore, extreme, pornography is mainstream today, this often means that wives or girlfriends are unwilling to perform certain degrading or painful sexual acts which are popular in porn. The porn user then must find someone else to fulfill these desires; whether it be a prostituted person, a human trafficking victim, or an affair on AshleyMadison.

The bottom line is that porn harms relationships, and it has been doing so for years. In a 2004 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Dr. Jill Manning shared her research, which found that 56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

Pornography is causing a public health crisis in America by not only contributing to sex trafficking, child abuse, and lifelong addictions, but also by stripping many individuals of the ability to have lasting meaningful relationships. In a pornified culture, where men are trained to view women as disposable means to pleasure, and women are bred to accept their role as sexual objects, AshleyMadison is an inevitable product.

To take a stand against the porn industry, and organizations facilitating sexual exploitation, visit: http://pornharmsaction.com

Watch our video, here:

National Center on Sexual Exploitation launches Resource Center

The mission of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation is defending human dignity and confronting sexual exploitation. It’s Vision is to insure all individuals have a right to be free from the effects of pornography and all other forms of sexual exploitation. In order to provide help to those in need the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has launched a new Resource Center website for those who want more information and become educated on this topic.

The Resource Center currently includes help for:

  • Those who are struggling with pornography and sex addictions
  • Partners and spouses of those who struggle
  • Parents
  • Survivors and victims of sexual exploitation
  • Technology Solutions & Tools
  • Ways you can take action
  • Talking Points
  • Free Handouts and Tools
  • Links to finding Research

The Center will soon launch its new website  www.EndSexualExploitation.org.

VIDEOS: The Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit

Dawn Hawkins discusses the need and plan for strong, united efforts among the many involved in these issues through the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation.

2014 CESE Summit Video: Dawn Hawkins, “The Coalition: Uniting to Advocate for Change” from Center On Sexual Exploitation on Vimeo.

Mrs. Hawkins is the Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (endsexualexploitation.org) where she has developed a national strategy uniting conservative, women’s rights, child advocacy and religious groups, including a bipartisan political leadership, to work together raising awareness of the pandemic of harm from pornography. Through her leadership, NCSE has grown a network reaching hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. Mrs. Hawkins has appeared on many local and national television programs, regularly authors articles and speaks around the country addressing the harms of pornography and what can be done to curb the growing pornification of our culture.

The Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) is focused on bringing a diverse spectrum of people together to solve and end the complex social issue of sexual exploitation. Members of the coalition create a unified front when faced with these seemingly insurmountable issues. As of September 2014, there are 280 national, state and local organizations in the Coalition.

CESE combines child advocacy, Internet safety, pro-family, prevention, education, women’s rights and feminist activists, recovery groups, law enforcement, anti-trafficking groups, state policy, and technology groups together, as well as health and science experts and religious leaders.

To learn more and view all of the videos of the 2014 End Sexual Exploitation Summit click here.

The 2015 End Sexual Exploitation Summit will be held in Orlando, Florida from September 10th to September 12th, 2015 at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

Dirty Dozen Sexual Exploiters of 2014 list includes Eric Holder, Verizon, Google and American Library Association

Morality In Media (MIM) has released its 2014 Dirty Dozen LIst: 12 Leading Contributors to Sexual Exploitation. The top purveyors of pornography in America are:

  1. Attorney General Eric Holder – Mr. Holder refuses to enforce existing federal obscenity laws against hard-core adult pornography, despite the fact that these laws have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and effectively enforced by previous attorneys general.
  2. Verizon – Verizon pushes porn into our homes now through hardcore pay-per-view movies on FIOS, smartphones and tablets and as an Internet Service Provider with insufficient filtering options.
  3. Sex Week – Yale and other colleges and universities repeatedly offer Sex Week on campus. Porn stars are routinely invited to lecture, and pornography that glamorizes “fantasy rape” is screened.
  4. Playstation – PlayStation’s live-streaming abilities are filling thousands of homes with live porn, and the PlayStation Store sells hundreds of pornographic and sexually violent games.
  5. Facebook – Facebook has become a top place to trade pornography, child pornography and for sexual exploitation. Facebook’s guidelines prohibit such behavior, but the company is doing little to enforce them.
  6. Barnes & Noble – This Fortune 500 Company is a major supplier of adult pornography and child erotica. They regularly put pornography near the children’s sections in their stores and provide free, unfiltered porn publications on their Nook e-reader.
  7. Hilton – This hotel chain, like Hyatt, Starwood and many other top hotel chains, provides hardcore pornography movie choices. Porn channels are often the first advertisement on their in-room TVs.
  8. American Library Association – The ALA encourages public libraries to keep their computers unfiltered and allow patrons, including children, to access pornography.
  9. Google – Google’s empire thrives on porn. Porn is easily available, even to children, through YouTube, GooglePlay, Google Images and Google Ads.
  10. Tumblr – This popular social media blogging site bombards users with porn. Users must only be 13, and the filters do not work.
  11. 50 Shades of Gray – This bestselling book series and upcoming movie are normalizing sexual violence, domination and torture of women. Oprah Winfrey Network, Broadway and other mainstream outlets have even promoted this abusive lifestyle.
  12. Cosmopolitan Magazine – The magazine is a full-on pornographic, “how-to” sex guide, encouraging women to accept the pornified culture around them. They specifically market this content to teen girls.

Read more.

ABOUT MORALITY IN MEDIA

Founded in 1962, Morality In Media (MIM) is the leading national organization opposing pornography and indecency through public education and the application of the law. MIM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Currently, Morality In Media directs the War on Illegal Pornography coalition, an effort with Congress to pressure the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce existing federal obscenity laws.

MIM also maintains a research website about the harms of pornography and regularly directs national awareness campaigns to help the public understand the consequences of pornography and find resources to aid in their struggles. To see MIM other current efforts, click here.