On Wednesday morning, actor Ashton Kutcher and Human Rights First CEO Elisa Massimino went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to testify against human trafficking and modern slavery. Chairman of the committee Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has long been an advocate of ending human slavery and sex trafficking and praised Kutcher’s work in trying to do the same.
During Ashton Kutcher’s 13-minute testimony, he said his organization had gotten a phone call from the Department of Homeland Security asking for help in locating a little girl being used as a sex slave. No one could find the perpetrator. Kutcher’s voice choked up as he told the tale of seeing a video of that girl being raped by an American man and not being able to help her.
“It devastated me. It haunted me. Because every night, I had to go to sleep… and think about that little girl who was still being abused, and the fact that if I built the right thing, we could save her. So that’s what we did. And now, if I got that phone call, the answer would be yes.”
Ashton Kutcher founded his organization, Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, in 2009 with his ex-wife Demi Moore, who remains active with Kutcher in the foundation’s growth.
In February of 2015, Senator Corker wrote a post on his official Facebook page regarding the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s unanimous passage of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, which was later introduced in Congress in 2016.
Comments on his post ranged from praise to scorn, with some people asking the senator to “get back to work on our country” instead of trying to stop human trafficking. Inexplicably, one person criticized Corker’s work against human trafficking as an indirect effort to “restrict women’s health care choices.”
According to Corker’s official Senate website, S.533, the End Modern Slavery Act was signed into law on December 23, 2016.
Ashton Kutcher’s Thorn website notes that three out of four underage sex trafficking victims interviewed by the organization were either advertised or sold online and emphasized the ease with which abusers use the internet to profit off their victims.
“The internet simplifies illegal transactions for johns and helps create new opportunities for pimps who profit from the sexual victimization of children.”
Earlier in February, 522 sex buyers and traffickers were arrested around the United States, including underage victims. The Chicago Tribune reports that of those, more than 100 arrests occurred in Cook County alone. Many of the victims of sex trafficking had started before turning 21 and had reported being sexually or physically abused as children.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides disturbing statistics that support Ashton Kutcher’s testimony against sex slavery of minors. In 2016 alone, the organization reported 2,387 cases of trafficking of minor children, with a total of 7,572 cases of human trafficking reported for the year. While internet commenters may not believe sex slavery and human trafficking are issues of national importance, the NHTH reports that the majority of victims are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
Sex trafficking was also the single most reported form of human trafficking, with 5,551 reports out of 7,572 for 2016.
In October, the Inquisitr reported that nine child sex trafficking victims had been rescued in an FBI sting in Colorado and Wyoming. Seventy suspects were arrested.
Ashton Kutcher knew internet trolls would attack him for it, seeing little value in it, or not believing his efforts were sincere.
“This is the part where internet trolls start telling me to stick to my day job… Technology can be used to enable slavery, but it can also be used to disable slavery.”
Corker and Kutcher both wore a red “X” pin that is a symbol for the End It Initiative, an effort dedicated to ending human slavery and trafficking and is the colloquial name for the End Modern Slavery law. After the video of Ashton Kutcher’s testimony, though, some viewers were not aware of the meaning behind the pin and posted comments deriding the “little red commie X on his coat.”
As Ashton Kutcher predicted, the trolls did come out in full force, but he remains committed to the cause and said he will continue to fight against human trafficking and child sex slavery.
“That’s my day job, and I’m sticking to it.”
[Featured Image by Amy Sussman/AP Images]