On Wednesday, Ashton Kutcher testified at the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. The actor and activist spoke about modern slavery and human trafficking on Capitol Hill. Despite discussing a pretty serious issue, the session started off pretty light, when Republican Senator John McCain joked with the actor, and Ashton responded by blowing a kiss.
Not your usual day at Capitol Hill.
A hearing entitled “Ending Modern Slavery: Building on Success” was held on Wednesday. Ashton was present to speak on behalf of the work he’s done with his organization, Thorn.
Before getting to the subject, Senator John McCain lighted the pace with a joke. McCain acknowledged Ashton and Human Rights First president, Elisa Massimino, presence in the hearing. He then joked about Ashton real life’s look by saying “Ashton, you were better-looking in the movies.” The actor responded smiling and blowing a kiss to McCain. Of course, this isn’t something you see every day on Capitol Hill, so please enjoy.
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 15, 2017
Getting to business.
The actor was all business while discussing modern slavery. He began his speech by saying “I am here today to defend the right to pursue happiness.”
In his 15 minutes testimony, Ashton thanked the committee for bipartisan cooperation on the important issue and recognized the opportunity of talking in a hearing was “one of the greatest honors of my life.”
The actor spoke on behalf of Thorn, an organization he co-founded in 2009 with ex-wife Demi Moore. Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children dedicates to build software to fight human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
Kutcher is pretty involved with it, not only he’s the chairman of Thorn but he considers it his day job. He stressed this fact by saying, “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’s voice broke several times during the testimony as he talked about his meeting with victims both internationally and domestically. He said, “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, victims from 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.”
Technology, inclusion and refugee crisis.
Kutcher stressed the importance of using technology as a tool to fight and prevent modern slavery. He talked about the need to foster public-private relationships and including the mental health system to work with victims.
He specifically talked about the results met with a software tool named “Spotlight”, and said “It’s working. In six months, with 25% of our users reporting, we’ve identified over 6,000 trafficking victims, 2,000 of which are minors.”
The actor also addressed the current political climate, specifically the refugee crisis. He said “When people are left out, when they’re neglected, when they’re not supported, and when they’re not given the love they need to grow, it becomes an incubator for trafficking, and this refugee crisis, if we want to be serious about ending slavery, we cannot ignore them, we cannot ignore our support for this issue in that space, because otherwise, we’re going to have to deal with it for years to come.”
Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker, thanked Ashton for his efforts and called it inspirational, he also said the actor is “a true testament to entrepreneurialism and people taking a risk toward social good.”
Ashton and the committee members wore red X pins, which symbolizes an awareness call towards the issue of modern slavery.
Source: USA Today