When you hear the name ‘Ashton Kutcher’ you probably think of television programs like “That 70’s Show,” or his latest series “The Ranch.” What you probably don’t know is that Kutcher and his ex-wife, actress Demi Moore, started an organization back in 2008 with the goal of fighting human trafficking.
He visited with Kathie Lee on “The Today Show” back in October to discuss his new television series set in rural Colorado, but it was clear that what he wanted to talk most about was his organization’s latest efforts in countering sex trafficking and child pornography.
Kutcher explains that they’ve found a common trend among those being trafficked: they’re all targeted on the Internet. So, that’s what Moore and Kutcher’s organization, known as Thorn, has been focusing on:
“We’re building digital tools to fight human trafficking. Basically, the purchase and commerce for human trafficking is happening online, just like everything else now, and so we’re building digital tools to fight back against it.”
Thorn’s mission statement says that its goal is “to drive tech innovation in the fight against trafficking.” They further elaborate on how they do this on their website:
“We partner across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children. The site also lists 20 members of what it calls The Thorn Technology Task Force, comprised of technology companies that lend their knowledge, time and resources to the work that we do. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Adobe are listed among the names who are helping Thorn’s cause.”
And so far, Thorn has seen quite a bit of success, as Kutcher illustrates:
“We’ve built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload and recover victims and find traffickers. And we’ve found and identified and recovered over 6,000 trafficking victims this year. And we’ve found, identified, and recovered 2,000 traffickers.”
But, Kutcher said that he and his organization aren’t going to stop at eliminating human sex trafficking, their goal is much more grand in scope.
“Our next battle, my next commitment…I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet.”
Thorn has taken to the Internet because of how prominent it has become in the child pornography realm. Thorn uses their Internet savvy tech to locate victims and their captors, because while so many people make off-handed jokes about white vans parked on the corner of streets handing out candy to kids, that isn’t really how sex traffickers operate--they work online.
The organization has gathered a slew of data that suggests that even very basic buy and sell websites, like Craigslist, are used everyday to facilitate human sex trafficking. They also found that in 2015, about 75% of child sex trafficking survivors who were surveyed said that they were sold in an online marketplace at one point or another.
One survivor, named Asia, told Thorn during a survey:
“People are posted and sold online multiple times a day. As far as the ad that was posted up [for me], there was a girl who eerily looked like me…just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price.”
At the moment, the anti-trafficking group Polaris reports that about 4.5 million people are currently trapped in the sex trafficking industry as a form of modern-day sex slavery. One Urban Institute study found that the underground sex industry was worth close to $290 million in the Atlanta, Georgia area by itself, a very eye-opening number indeed.
This article was republished from expandedconsciousness.com.
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