Young Africans Turn to Porn Industry to Escape Poverty

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Young Africans are entering an emerging pornography market in Africa as a way of coping with low wages and poverty, according to human trafficking analysts and adult film industry monitors. Foreign demand is part of the reason for a surge in the production of sex films featuring Africans in the small, but growing African porn industry, according to Amély-James Koh Bela, a Cameroonian activist who monitors the porn industry.

African actresses are wanted for pornography in Europe, she said. Koh Bela said that companies have added “special Black” pornography as a new niche to adult film categories that already flood the Internet.

Money is what attracts the performers, Koh Bela said. The cities of Doula, Yaoundé and Kribi in Cameroon are emerging as African porn production centers, where actors and actresses brag about their jobs, Kho Bela said.

One Cameroonian man, who has since dropped out of performing in the industry, told TheRoot.com that he was paid $2,100 for two adult films made by a French producer. Palesa Mbau, a 23 year-old South African woman, has a Web site catering to adult film enthusiasts from which she sells photos and films of herself for $75 to $100.

But there are dangers in the industry and HIV/AIDS exposure may be the worst risk, according to Journalist Habibou Bangré. Condoms are rarely used during shoots and HIV testing is not always available.

According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS global report, 22.5 million people in sub-Saharan countries are currently infected. Human trafficking mainly affects West African communities, according to the June 2010 Globalization of Crime Report, but those in the pornography industry are still at risk of being exploited in human trafficking.

“You can find cases of rape, prostitution, which is much more visible, and pornographic-material production,” says Anne-Sophie Faysse, leader of the French branch of ECPAT, an organization working to fight child sexual exploitation. “When a child is caught in a network, the human trafficker exploits it in every possible way.”

The majority of trafficking victims are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, according to unglobalimpact.org. The report found that 95 percent of victims experience physical or sexual violence during trafficking, based on data from European countries.