Ashton Kutcher started as a model, rose to fame playing a doofus on That 70’s Show, became a movie star, and hit a million Twitter followers before anyone else, yet it’s his philanthropic work that might end up defining his life.
On Wednesday, February 15, Kutcher joined Elisa Massimino, president and chief executive of the the nonprofit organization Human Rights First, and gave a 15-minute speech in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging Congress to take action against modern day slavery and human trafficking.
“I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness. It’s a simple notion: ‘the right to pursue happiness,’ ” Kutcher 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.”
Outside of from his Hollywood career, Kutcher is co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, a nonprofit organization that “leverages technology to combat the sexual exploitation of children.”
The Two and a Half Men star also touched on the criticism he’s received online from people telling him to “stick to his day job.” He responded to his critics by telling stories of child rape which he has witnessed on the web.
“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.”