When I think of Ashton Kutcher I think of the TV actor who made me laugh in That 70’s Show, or his brilliant performance as Steve Jobs in the movie Jobs. I also think of him as Milas Kunis’ husband because, well they make super cute couple. I do not think of Ashton as a man who works bravely each day to end people’s suffering. But after watching this brilliant speech on ending human trafficking I am in absolute awe of this man.
Ashton broke down in tears as he spoke to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday on the issue of ending modern slavery. Ashton acknowledges the trolls that will tell him to stick to his ‘day job’ but then goes to show us all that his day job is in fact as the co-founder of Thorn, an organisation that creates technology to help combat human trafficking. There is no doubt he ABSOLUTELY has the goods to back up his words. His speech describes witnessing things no person should ever see while working for his organisation including a video of a child, the same age as his own daughter, being raped.
Here is part of his incredibly powerful speech:
I am here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion — the right to pursue happiness. It’s bestowed upon all of us by our Constitution. Every citizen of this country has the right to pursue it, and I believe that it 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. This is about the time that I start talking about politics and the internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job.
So I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is as 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. My other day job is that of the father of two — a 2-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. As part of my anti-trafficking work, I’ve met victims in Russia. I’ve met victims in India. I’ve met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico. I’ve met victims in New York and New Jersey and all across our country. I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see. I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play. 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 had 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.
Wow. I was in tears watching him speak. Let’s not tell this man to get back to his day job but acknowledge his amazing contribution to wanting to improve the world around him. Human trafficking is a major issue across the world, including here in Australia. It generates an estimated 32 billion US dollars annually and worldwide $150 billion, and very few people are prosecuted. It might be a yukky topic to talk about but it affects so many disenfranchised people so let’s applaude the people who get up and DO something.
The video of Ashton’s speech is 15 minutes long but SO worth the watch: