Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher recently delivered a powerful monologue highlighting the issue of human trafficking and called on world leaders to help end child sexual exploitation.
On Wednesday, the That 70's Show actor, who is the chairman and co-founder of Thorn, an organization that partners "across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children," testified before Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"I'm here today to defend the right to pursue happiness," Kutcher said, beginning his testimony. "It's a simple notion, the right to pursue happiness. It's bestowed upon all of us by our Constitution... 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 on the rest of the world."
"But the right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away," he continued. "It's raped. It's abused. It's taken by force, fraud or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another."
With tears in his eyes, the actor, who has two small children with his wife, actress Mila Kunis, revealed that he has met a number of victims through his work with thorn: "I've been on FBI raids where I've seen things that no person should ever see," he said. 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."
Kutcher went on to address the refugee crisis and explain how it can lead to more human trafficking: "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," he said.
He added, "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."
According to staggering statistic announced on NBC's "Today" show, every 30 seconds someone falls victim to sex trafficking, and UNICEF reports that more than a million children are trafficked each year.
Last month, a total of 55 human trafficking victims, including 28 children, were rescued in a series of raids led by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force across California.
As reported, 474 people were arrested; 142 men were charged with solicitation, while 36 men were held on suspicion of pimping. The children were turned over to the care of various agencies and were being helped by two organizations, Saving Innocence and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell explained that over 70 percent of child trafficking victims are often under the care of foster homes. Because the children are hungry for affection and love, they are easily swayed by pimps, who lure them into a trap by tricking them into believing that they will give them what they are looking for.
"They're looking for love. They're looking for someone that cares about them. The pimp says that they're going to give them this, then leads them down a path of destruction," McDonnell said.
Speaking to the victims of human trafficking, McDonnell said, "You are worthy of more. And we will work tirelessly with our partners ... to provide you services and help you rebuild your life."