An alarming issue that normally escapes the public eye was recently brought to main-stream attention by celebrity and actor Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher spoke “before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing on progress in combating modern slavery,” according to CNN.
Modern slavery is defined as “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion,” according to the United States Department of State. The U.S. Department of State also explains that the term “modern slavery” can be used interchangeably with “trafficking in persons” and “human trafficking.”
This wasn’t Kutcher’s first time speaking out about this issue; in 2009 he and his ex-wife Demi Moore founded Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children. This organization is dedicated to building software to combat human trafficking, according to CNN. Kutcher made clear that technology is one of the most important tools in the fight against modern slavery and gave specific updates on how effective Thorn’s current efforts are.
Kutcher’s responsibility as a chairperson of Thorn, and as a father, is to dedicate his time and passion to the cause of human trafficking, according to Kutcher. While speaking about his involvement, 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.”
Since this child was conditioned to her environment, according to Kutcher, she felt like “she was engaging in play.”
Kutcher’s speech was moving and educated, as he called for, “specific actions, including additional funding for the technology, fostering public-private sector relationships, looking into the pipeline for victims … and differentiating solutions sets for sex trafficking and labor trafficking with enforcement and legislation initiatives.”
Kutcher’s celebrity status and work with Thorn is bringing modern slavery, an extremely important issue—especially considering the refugee crisis—to the forefront of our politics.
While all social issues deserve attention, sex slavery is an issue that is close to home for us here at Geneseo, although many individuals are unaware of this. The danger in modern slavery is not only in its existence, but also in its ability to remain deemed “unimportant.”
USA Today reports that in 2014 a “western New York man was arrested in July, the allegations were salacious and attracted national media attention: sexual slavery, kidnapping and claims of gang involvement.”
Further, in 2015 a Mt. Morris man had been “arraigned on new charges stemming from alleged sex crimes, in which he is accused of holding a woman prisoner and using her as a sex slave,” according to 13 WHAM News.
While sex slavery is committed all over the world, Geneseo students should be aware that it is happening in towns and counties right next to them. Kutcher brought this to light with his speech on Capitol Hill and in his call for activism.
March 14 is the perfect opportunity to get involved, as it is #MyFreedomDay—a day dedicated to students joining the fight against modern slavery, raising awareness and celebrating freedom. Hopefully this campaign, coupled with Kutcher’s activism, will bring modern slavery the public attention it deserves.