American actor Ashton Kutcher, who is also a campaigner against human trafficking and sexual exploitation, gave emotional testimony on Wednesday (February 15) before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Kutcher, the co-founder of Thorn, an organization that works to end modern slavery, said as a father he was especially motivated in his work.
“My day job is as the chairman and the co-founder of Thorn. We build software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. And that’s our core mission. My other day job is that of the father of two – a two-month-old and a 2-year-old. And as part of that job that I take very seriously, I believe that it is my effort to defend their right to pursue happiness and to ensure a society and government that defends it as well,” Kutcher said.
“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.”
The actor made the remarks at the hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Bob Corker to gauge the progress to end modern slavery and human trafficking and the enactment of authorizing legislation for the End Modern Slavery Initiative.
Kutcher rebuffed critics who said the actor should stick to movies and TV.
“I’ve been on the other end of a phone call from my team asking for my help because we had received a call from the Department of Homeland Security telling us that a 7-year-old girl was being sexually abused and that content was being spread around the dark web. And she had been being abused and they’d watched her for three years, and they could not find the perpetrator. Asking us for help. We were the last line of defense – an actor and his foundation were the potential last line of defense. That’s my day job and I’m sticking to it,” Kutcher said.
Kutcher asked the senators for more funding to finance tools to ensnare people trying to exploit children online.
“Can we build the tools that are better than their tools to fight what’s happening?” he asked.
“It’s happening all over the place, has been happening for decades in print media. We’re now just recognizing it for what it is. And I think that that’s the most important part, and secondarily to that, is let’s build the tools let’s finance the tools and let’s deploy the tools to fight back.”
Kutcher was joined in his testimony by Elisa Massimino, president and CEO of Human Rights First.