Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher

Actor and human rights campaigner Ashton Kutcher has given emotional testimony in front of the US Senate, urging lawmakers to act in support of efforts to bring child sexual exploitation to an end.

Speaking in his capacity as the chairman of Thorn, an organisation that develops software to help locate victims of abuse, the 39-year-old actor told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington that it was time for "society and government" to defend vulnerable people, reported CNN.

"The right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away, it's raped, it's abused, it's taken by force," a visibly emotional Kutcher said.

He said that new technology was needed to identify patterns of exploitation and identify individuals at risk.

"Technology can be used to enable slavery, but it can also be used to disable slavery. Can we build the tools that are better than their tools to fight what is happening?"

Kutcher, who is married to fellow actor Mila Kunis and has two young children with her, told the Ending Modern Slavery hearing that his work was aimed at helping vulnerable children around the world, and that he had been deeply affected by what he had seen as his foundation had developed its technology.

"I've seen video content of a child that's the same age as mine, being raped by an American man who was a sex tourist in Cambodia," he said, tearing up.

"This child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play. We were the last line of defence - an actor and his foundation," he said about Thorn being approached by authorities in the past to help track online criminals in this sphere.

"That's my day job, and I'm sticking to it."