Lawmakers, actors and advocates ‘shine light’ on slavery

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- It’s something many people think is a thing of the past. But right now 27 million people are living in slavery.

“We can’t imagine that this is happening in our own communities,” Maheen Kaleem, a staff attorney with Rights4Girls said.

Sex trafficking is considered modern day slavery. It’s something Kaleem said too often goes unnoticed by the outside world.

“We still don’t have the resources that we need to be able to identify. Part of it is the unground economy part of it is that a majority is happening online,” Kaleem said.

Kaleem works to end gender based violence. She said the Internet changed the game for sex traffickers, moving from the streets to apps like Snap Chat and Tinder to buy and sell men, women and children. It’s this battle on the dark web bringing an unlikely pair together on Capitol Hill.

“We were the last line of defense an actor and his foundation were the potential last line of defense,” actor Ashton Kutcher said.

Kutcher is the co-founder of THORN, a technology company working to combat child sexual exploitation on the web. He teamed up with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker to find news ways for the government to help with funding.

“He’s been such an entrepreneur in developing the tools in law enforcement in Knoxville and all across our state of Tennessee to really apprehend people in sex trafficking,” Corker said.

Even though his bill creating resourcing to fight this issue was signed into law just three months ago, Corker is pushing for more action in Congress. Kutcher agreed more needed to be done.

“We can all stand up and share rhetoric about ending slavery but if you’re not going to be serious about it as it relates to the holistic circle you’re not actually addressing it. So I hope that is recognized by some folks and I hope that there will be some action taken relative to that,” Kutcher added.

What’s accomplished in our nation’s capital could benefit organizations like Rights4Girls
It’s an effort that Kaleem said is going to take everyone, from local communities, to Washington to Hollywood, to end.

“It requires people who have not traditionally worked together to work together. It’s when folks collaborate that you come up with solutions,” Kaleem said.

Both Kutcher and Kaleem said it’s going to take a holistic approach to solve the issue. A combination of prevention, intervention, long-term services and law enforcement to tackle the problem.



 
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