(CNN) No one got “Punk’d” Wednesday morning when Ashton Kutcher came to Capitol Hill.
The actor testified Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing on progress in combating modern slavery. Kutcher spoke on behalf of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an organization he co-founded with then-wife Demi Moore in 2009 that builds software to fight human trafficking.These days, he called his “day job” his work as chairman of Thorn and also as a father — he and wife Mila Kunis welcomed son, Dimitri Portwood, in November, and daughter, Wyatt, is two years old. (He caught a red eye to Washington after a Valentine’s Day dinner with Kunis and will return home this afternoon.)
In an impassioned 15-minute opening testimony, Kutcher praised the committee for bipartisan cooperation on the issue, calling his opportunity to speak “one of the greatest honors of my life,” his voice cracking multiple times as he recalled his work with victims.
“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,” Kutcher 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. And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”Kutcher pressed the importance of using technology as a tool that can be used to disable slavery, citing specific progress.
“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. This tool has enhanced 4,000 law enforcement officials in 900 agencies. And we’re reducing the investigation time by 60%,” he said of a software tool called “Spotlight.”Another tool called “Solis” has taken investigation times from dark web material from three years to three weeks, Kutcher said.He spoke knowledgeably on the issue and called for specific actions, including additional funding for the technology, fostering public-private sector relationships, looking into the pipeline for victims, including working with the foster care system and the mental health system, and differentiating solution sets for sex trafficking and labor trafficking with enforcement and legislation initiatives.Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker called Kutcher’s work “inspirational,” and “a true testament to entrepreneurialism and people taking a risk toward social good.”Corker, his fellow committee members, including Sens. Tim Kaine and Marco Rubio, and Kutcher all wore red X pins, a symbol calling awareness to the issue of modern slavery.