February 23, 2017

A Surprising Champion for Ending Modern Slavery

By Megan Guilfoyle

With over 27 million people in 165 countries enslaved around the world— the highest rate in history, according to Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)— the need to address modern-day slavery and human trafficking is more imperative now than ever before.

Fortunately, “we are at a historic turning point in the global fight to end modern slavery,” said Senator Corker during the opening of last week’s hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On February 15, just ahead of “Shine A Light on Slavery Day,” the SFRC held its third hearing on human trafficking and modern slavery—highlighting the heinous nature of these crimes and acknowledging the progress that has been made to eliminate them.

As the U.S. begins to implement the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, recently enacted legislation championed by SFRC co-chairs Senator Corker and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the committee sought insight from a surprising guest: Ashton Kutcher.

Though Kutcher is famous for his acting, he testified on behalf of Thorn, a nonprofit he co-founded to fight human trafficking and slavery around the world.

By partnering with tech companies, law enforcement and NGOs, Thorn helps create innovative tools to locate victims of child abuse faster and make online environments safer.

During his testimony, Kutcher underscored the importance of stopping global trafficking networks and the critical need for public-private partnerships.

“My second recommendation is to continue to foster these private-public partnerships,” Kutcher said. “It’s vital to our success. These private-public partnerships are the key.”

Kutcher also gave several other recommendations to the SFRC on how to combat slavery and human trafficking effectively and efficiently.

In a show of support, Senator Corker, Senator Cardin, the committee and its staffers prominently wore red X pins on their lapels, and many had drawn red X’s on their hands as a symbol of the END IT movement.

“This is a bipartisan effort and in a country that is riddled with bipartisan separation on so many things, slavery seems to come up as one of these issues that we can all agree upon,” Kutcher said.

Through continued bipartisan support and legislation like the End Modern Slavery Initiative, Congress and organizations like Thorn can help bring the millions who are currently enslaved around the world closer to freedom.