Ashton Kutcher testifies at hearing to end modern slavery

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….. rescues 6,000 sex trafficking victims, arrests over 2,000 traffickers

Movie actor, Ashton Kutcher testified at a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in the hopes of ending modern slavery and human trafficking.

At the start of the hearing, Senator John McCain made a remark on Kutcher’s appearance, telling the actor that he looked better “in the movies.”

During the testimony, he said I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion. It’s bestowed upon all of us by our Constitution. Every citizen in this country has the right to pursue it and I believe that is incumbent upon us as citizens of this nation, as Americans, to bestow that right upon others. Upon each other and upon the rest of the world. But the right to pursue happiness, for so many, is stripped away. It’s raped. It’s abused. It’s taken by force, fraud, or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.

Kutcher acknowledged that internet trolls frequently tell him to “stick to his day job,” so the actor defended his position by explaining what those “day jobs” are.

Outside of fame, Kutcher is a chairman and co-founder of Thorn, a company that builds software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. He’s also the father of two ― a 2-month-old son and a 2-year-old daughter ― and insisted that he was at the hearing “to defend their right” to pursue happiness and ensure society defends that, as well.

Amid his appeal to committee, Kutcher held back tears as he shared things he’s experienced during his travels to save children from trafficking, giving horrific examples of individuals who suffered sexual abuse.

Kutcher also addressed what the government can be doing to prevent trafficking going forward, as well as what can be done for individuals after they are saved so they don’t fall back into that world.

“The right to pursue [happiness] is every man’s right. I beg of you that if you give people the right to pursue, what you may find in return is happiness for yourself.”

In 2008, Kutcher and his ex-wife, Demi Moore decided to tackle one of the more serious crimes facing our modern world – human/sex trafficking.

By basic definition, human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. The trade is a modern form of slavery. It involves controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim. Over the years, the United Nations, International Non-Governmental Organizations, human rights activists, and individuals have all stepped up efforts in order to end the trade. However, due to the high rate of unemployment and rising poverty levels in some nations, the trade is still secretly thriving.

Also, with the rise of the Internet and technology, it is becoming increasingly easy for traffickers to lure people, especially young girls, into the dirty business. Mostly, traffickers will hide on the deep web, using sophisticated gadgets to carry out their trade.

Kutcher and Moore decided to concentrate their efforts on the Internet, to thwart the trade of the traffickers. They set up an organization called Thorn. Thorn’s mission is very simple: to eliminate sex-trafficking and child exploitation over the Internet.

With the help of around 20 technology companies, they set up the Thorn Task Technical Force. Technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, Snapchat and Imgur are all part of this task force.

They dedicate their time and resources to searching the darker corners of the Internet, hunting out traffickers who have been involving in trafficking innocent people. Since establishing Thorn in 2008, the organization has so far, identified and rescued over 6,000 trafficking victims and captured over 2,000 traffickers – many of which are now in the process of facing criminal charges.

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