Ashton Kutcher testifies before U.S. Senate committee on human trafficking

Ashton Kutcher testified before a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee looking at ways to end human trafficking on Wednesday morning.

The That 70’s Show actor is the co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, which is an organization that develops software to “leverage technology to combat predatory behaviour, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children, according to its website. He co-founded the organization with his ex-wife Demi Moore.

“This is about the time, when I start talking about politics, that the internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job, so I’d like to talk about my day job,” Kutcher said on Wednesday.

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“My day job is the chairman and co-founder of Thorn. We build software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. That’s our core mission … We [are] their last line of defense … That’s my day job. And I’m sticking to it.”
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Kutcher nearly broke into tears describing his frustration at being unable to help the Department of Homeland Security locate a seven-year-old girl who was shown being raped on a video posted to the dark web.

“It devastated me,” he said. “It haunted me. Because every night, I had to go to sleep every night 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 what we did. And now, if I got that phone call, the answer would be ‘yes.’ ”

“Technology can be used to enable slavery, but it can also be used to disable slavery,” he told the senators.

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Kutcher also took the time to address the foster care system. “There are 500,000 kids in foster care today. I was astonished to find out that 70 per cent of the inmates in prison across this country have touched the foster care system and 80 per cent of the people on death row were, in some point and time, exposed to the foster care system.”

“Fifty per cent of these kids will not graduate high school and 95 per cent of them will not get a college degree. But the most staggering statistic that I found was that foster care children are four times more likely to be exposed to sexual abuse.”

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“That’s a breeding ground for trafficking. I promise you that’s a breeding ground for trafficking.”

“But the reason I looked at foster care is that it’s a microcosm, it’s a sample set that we have pretty extraordinary data around to date, even though we can’t seem to fix it. It’s a microcosm for what happens when displacement happens abroad as the unintended consequences of our actions or in actions in the rest of the world.”

Kutcher continued to speak about what happens when people are “neglected” and “not supported.” He believes that it is an “incubator for trafficking.”

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WATCH BELOW: Ashton Kutcher blows John McCain a kiss after crack about his looks

Click to play video: 'Ashton Kutcher blows John McCain a kiss after crack about his looks'
Ashton Kutcher blows John McCain a kiss after crack about his looks

The session got off to a lighthearted start when Sen. John McCain made a playful jab about Kutcher’s looks that has already gone viral.

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“Ashton, you were better looking in the movies,” joked McCain. Kutcher responded by blowing a kiss in McCain’s direction.

Kutcher also addressed what the government can be doing to prevent trafficking going forward.

“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 a statement before the hearing on modern slavery, the father of two said, “For years now, Thorn has been committed to building tech tools to combat child sexual exploitation and facilitating collaborations across [the] tech industry to disrupt these crimes. We have no intention of stopping until we win this battle.”
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You can watch Kutcher’s entire speech in the video above.

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