“There’re between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today,” Ashton Kutcher tells CNN’s Piers Morgan. “If you don’t do something to stop that – that’s when there’s something wrong with you.”
In their first-ever joint prime time interview, actress Demi Moore and actor Ashton Kutcher joined Thursday’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”
The husband-and-wife team launched The Demi & Ashton Foundation (DNA) after a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in January. They met a girl who had been trafficked into the United States by her pimp, who brought her into a field where she was repeatedly raped on a trash bag by 30 men. The DNA Foundation stands for the fundamental right to freedom for every person – because it’s within our DNA.
“It just seemed impossible to live in a world where that was going on and not do something about it,” said Moore.
According to Kutcher, the average age of entry into the sex trade is 13.
“And that’s globally, by the way,” added the actor, who also pointed out that many Americans view child sex slavery as a problem in places that they have no control over, such as Cambodia, India or Nepal.
Kutcher wants to people to realize trafficking is prevalent in the U.S., too. Traffickers are often “Average Joes,” usually in their early 30s.
“And what they’re really doing,” said Kutcher, “is profiting off the sale of these women and girls.”
These men seem like perfect guys to vulnerable girls from broken homes. Pimps start off nice and generous in a ritual that Moore likens to “courting.” Sometimes they meet the girls online, establish relationships with them, take them shopping, make them comfortable and gain their trust.
One of the so-called faces of human trafficking joined “Piers Morgan Tonight” under concealed identity from an undisclosed location to provide a first-hand account of what Morgan called “the horrors of sex trafficking.” The 17-year-old girl went by the name “Nicole” for the purposes of the interview.
When Nicole – who is an American citizen – was 13, her father went to jail while her mother battled drug addiction. Nicole began establishing relationships with men online, leading to a cycle of pimps, drug problems and even jail.
Moore recalled the story of a girl who, now 18, was just 11 when she was taken in by a pimp. In a similar fashion, he took her to McDonald’s, took her to the mall and made her feel safe. Pretty soon she was forced into child prostitution and given a $1,500-a-night quota. If she didn’t meet her quota, she was beaten or forced to sit in a tub of ice.
Her pimp’s nickname was “Daddy Day Care” because the girls he overpowered were extremely young. According to the girl, Moore said, the pimp would load the girls into an overcrowded car – so crowded that some rode in the trunk – drive to Las Vegas, place ads on Craigslist and have the girls prostituting almost immediately.
Siddharth Kara, author of “Sex Trafficking, Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” also joined the show. Kara said at a minimum, there are “1.5 million traffic sex slaves in the world today generating profits in 2010 that exceeded $39 billion.” (Related: Attack the demand for child sex trafficking)
Moore reiterated that she and Kutcher initiated the campaign “to create awareness. You have to acknowledge a problem exists before you can actually go about finding a solution,” she said. “And what we’ve found is that most people aren’t even aware of what’s going on.”
Moore and Kutcher maintain that they will remain committed to the cause no matter how long it takes to eradicate child sex slavery.
Morgan asked the couple famously addicted to Twitter – Kutcher has 6.5 million followers, Moore has 3.5 million – if it is smart to use social media as a tool to spread the word about their campaign when social media often makes it easier for child sex traffickers to operate.
“For me,” said Kutcher, “I think I looked at this platform and thought to myself, ‘This could be the collective consciousness, right?’ This platform, in and of itself, a little shout here, and a little shout there. But the key was being able to drive a link into deeper, richer content into a tweet, and then have that tweet be syndicated.
“I don’t believe that there’s a problem in the world that exists that the solutions didn’t exist before the problem. So that’s why we’re using social media for this campaign,” he said. “It’s to actually go right into the heart of where it’s taking place. Seventy-six percent of the transactions for child sex slavery is actually happening online. So if we can motivate people while they are online to do something about that, then we can make a dent.”
Furthermore, Kutcher urged people to visit sites such as Craigslist and flag pages that appear to be about child trafficking.
“People can start to actually un-root this at its root,” said Kutcher, who urged people to go to Facebook.com/TheDNAfoundation, put themselves in a video, share that video with friends and go to the action tab where the foundation outlines online initiatives.
“We want the social web to become the police for human trafficking online,” Kutcher told Morgan.