Left: Bieyanka Moore’s MySpace picture. Right: The missing child photo the Florida woman submitted.
If you visit our newest exhibit, Girl for Sale, you’ll learn that the trafficking of girls is a lot more common than you might think. When talking about trafficking, we often mention how girls are forced or coerced into prostitution. But as one recent story shows, girls are also at risk for exploitation in the porn industry.
Bieyanka Moore, who says she's 19, has appeared in several films for the porn company Reality Kings. A couple of weeks ago, a woman from Florida filed a lawsuit against Reality Kings, claiming that Bieyanka is her daughter, and is actually a 15-year-old runaway.
In the United States, any person who appears in pornographic material must be at least 18 years old, and the burden of verifying every performer’s age rests on the porn company (The US legal code regarding pornography can be found here.). Companies are also required to keep accurate records verifying each performer's age and to make these records available to their state Attorney General's office at any time. Reality Kings is arguing that Bieyanka provided ID saying she was 19, and that since she lied to them, they are blameless. But the law requires a thorough background check for every performer, and it's pretty doubtful that a teenager could pull off such extensive identity fraud. It seems likely that either Reality Kings didn't do enough to check Bieyanka’s age, or else some adult was helping her get into porn.
There has been a precedent for cases of minors in porn. In 1983, a 15-year-old Traci Lords convinced porn executives that she was 20 and began appearing in adult films. In this case, Traci was assisted by her mother’s former boyfriend, who had begun molesting her a few years earlier. By the time she turned 18, she had appeared in nearly 100 adult films; but that same year the FBI uncovered evidence that she had begun her career as an underage performer. As a result, stores and porn theaters were required to get rid of any merchandise they had that contained footage of her as a minor.
It remains to be seen what will happen in the case of Bieyanka Moore. Hopefully, Reality Kings will pull her film and get her the help she needs as an exploited girl and as a homeless teen. And let's also hope that porn companies learn to be more cautious in checking performers' ages, and be aware that runaway girls are at a high risk of exploitation.
Girl Museum Inc.