On Wednesday, well-established actor and philanthropist Ashton Kutcher testified at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. During the hearing, he spoke about the requirement to end modern slavery and human trafficking and gave an emotional testimony to support his message.
At first, Kutcher’s presence was taken light-heartedly. Senator John McCain commented that the actor looked better “in the movies,” to which Kutcher then blew him a kiss. But from then on, it adopted a serious tone. Seated next to Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino, Ashton gave his passionate speech. He began,
“I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion. It’s bestowed upon all of us by our Constitution. Every citizen in this country has the right to pursue it and I believe that 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.”
The entrepreneur pointed out that he’s frequently told by internet trolls to “stick to his day job,” so he defended his position by explaining what those “day jobs” are. That’s when he introduced Thorn, a company he co-founded and serves as chairman of. The organization builds software to fight human trafficking so that the sexual exploitation of children might be ended. As a father of two kids – a 2-month-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, this topic is very close to his heart.
Kutcher went on to share a few eye-opening experiences that occurred while trying to help save children from trafficking. Holding back tears, he recalled:
“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. This child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”
Before ending his address, he elaborated on what the government and average citizens can do to prevent trafficking from 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,” Kutcher admonished.