The actor got emotional speaking about his work with Thorn

By Diana Pearl
February 15, 2017 02:25 PM
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Credit: Leigh Vogel/Getty

Ashton Kutcher has taken his passion for philanthropy to Capitol Hill.

Kutcher, 39, testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on modern day slavery Wednesday. He spoke alongside Elisa Massimino, president and chief executive of the New York-based nonprofit Human Rights First, both of whom shared horrors they’ve witnessed through work with their respective organizations. (Kutcher is the co-founder of Thorn, a non-profit organization that “drives technology innovation to fight the sexual exploitation of children,” according to their website.)

Kutcher gave a 15-minute speech on modern day slavery, compelling Congress to act to end the horrors faced by women and children around the globe.

“I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion: ‘the right to pursue happiness,’ ” he said. “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 on 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.”

Kutcher’s speech was a timely one as next week marks Shine a Light on Slavery Day.

He also spoke of the criticism he’s gotten from others — or as he referred to them, “trolls,” — who tell him to “stick to [his] day job.” He rebutted these critiques by saying that his work with Thorn is his day job. He then told a harrowing story about seeing a child, the same age as his daughter, Wyatt (with wife Mila Kunis), who is just 2 years old, being raped by an adult man.

“I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man who was a sex tourist in Cambodia, and this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play,” he said.

“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’d 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.”