At the recent Senate hearing, actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher gave an impassioned speech to end modern slavery. “Maybe one of the greatest honours of my life today is to be here,” he said.
“I am here today to defend the right to pursue happiness,” said Kutcher, “It is a simple notion that is bestowed upon us by our Constitution… But the right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away. It is raped, it is abused, and it is taken by force, fraud or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.”
Kutcher gave his presentation in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, in his capacity as the Co-Founder and Chairman of Thorn – the digital technology group that fights the sexual exploitation of children. “My day job is as the chairman and co-founder of Thorn – we built software to fight human trafficking in the sexual exploitation of children,” he said.
Kutcher said that fatherhood continues to motivate him to do this work, “My other day job is as the father of two – a two month old and a two year old, and as part of that job that I take very seriously, I believe it is my effort to defend their right to pursue happiness but to ensure a society and government that defends it as well. “
Thorn works with traditional law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security in an effort to save victims of servitude and also track down perpetrators. Kutcher says that through the work, he has met victims in Russia, India, Mexico, and USA. “I’ve seen things no person should ever see.” Often these agencies have difficulties locating perpetrators due to the anonymity that they employ over the dark web.
This is where Thorn comes in. The company uses various tools to help law enforcement locate victims and capture criminals. Kutcher told the story of 15-year-old girl “Amy” who met a man online and was later abused, raped and sold into sexual servitude. Unfortunately her case is all too-common except for one thing, “The only unusual thing is that Amy was found and returned to her family within three days using the software we have created.”
To help his efforts, Kutcher made several recommendations to the committee, including the importance of funding and the ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors.
You can read more about the work of Thorn by visiting their website here
Watch the full interview below: