According to dosomething.org, “In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the U.S. were sex trafficking cases involving only children.”
Though learning the facts and figures behind sex trafficking is horrific, it’s important to know this information to help end this problem. Here are five celebrities using their large and influential platforms to help fight sex trafficking.
Although she’s most famous for her acting and for her beautiful marriage to Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively is also a mother to three little girls and is a passionate advocate against child sexual exploitation.
In 2017, she went viral after giving a speech about the horrors of child pornography at the Variety Power of Women Luncheon. She said, “I was afraid to ask as a mother, you know, because it would be painful to hear, and I felt like I had to ask though, and I feel like I have to share it with you guys now. It is disturbing and I want to warn you, but I feel that it is my responsibility to tell you guys because it is the truth, and I believe that if we all knew this, we would dedicate much more of ourselves to stopping it.”
Lively continued, “It isn’t happening rarely, it’s not happening worlds away, it’s happening here and right now.”
She spoke of many horrifying statistics in her speech — from the abuse of newborns still attached to their umbilical cord to the fact that the average abuser will harm between 50 to 100 children in their lifetime — it’s hard to not break down while hearing these facts. Although it’s nauseating to think of such horrific abuse, it’s important to know to help stop crimes that harm thousands of children daily.
In 2012, Ashton Kutcher and his then-wife Demi Moore founded Thorn, an organization dedicated to building technology to defend children from sex trafficking and abuse.
The website says, “In 2014, after our team prototyped a product to aid in identifying child sex trafficking victims who were sold online, we made the decision to develop the product itself and provide it free to law enforcement...We now house the first engineering and data science team focused solely on developing new technologies to combat online child sexual abuse...We are able to quickly assess whether new technologies can be repurposed to protect children from sexual exploitation through one of our three strategic pillars: 1) accelerating victim identification 2) equipping platforms, and 3) empowering the public.”
Spotlight has “helped in identifying 14,874 child victims of human trafficking in the past four years.”
The most famous and successful tool they have built is Spotlight, a web-based tool that is used by law enforcement in every American state and in Canada. Spotlight has “helped in identifying 14,874 child victims of human trafficking in the past four years.”
Kutcher went viral in 2017 after giving an impassioned speech before Congress on ending sex trafficking. Kutcher is still a co-chair of the organization, where he continues to help save the lives of children across the globe.
Latin-American pop star Ricky Martin has it all, and he has used his platform to save children from sex trafficking and exploitation. He’s a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and the founder of the Ricky Martin Foundation, whose mission is to “advocate for the well being of children around the world in critical areas such as education, health, and social justice. Our principal program, People for Children, condemns child exploitation as a result of human trafficking.”
In India, Martin helped rescue three underaged girls from being sold into a prostitution ring.
Though Martin’s activism is mainly focused on his home country Puerto Rico and on the Caribbean, he has also traveled the globe to help end sex trafficking. In 2005, he was the guest of honor at the 25th Arab Children’s Congress in Amman, Jordan, the home of the largest child safety center in the Middle East. In India, he helped rescue three underaged girls from being sold into a prostitution ring, and his foundation has hosted hundreds of events to educate people on the horrors of sex trafficking.
Retired MLB first baseman Adam LaRoche left behind millions of dollars to pursue something more important than baseball: the end of sex trafficking. In 2015, LaRoche volunteered with the non-profit The Exodus Road, and he went undercover to help bust several sex-trafficking rings in Southeast Asia.
He spoke about the experience in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. He said, "It's one of the saddest things I've experienced. You can almost see right through their eyes. Obviously, they have to play the part, enjoying it and be excited for what they do. But it's pretty obvious, especially when you get to visit with them, that it's the last place they'd ever want to be.” He continued, "I got opened to a whole new world of oppression that I didn't know existed."
LaRoche retired early from baseball to pursue undercover work full-time.
After returning home from his trip, the horrors of sex trafficking haunted LaRoche, and he decided to retire early from baseball and pursue undercover work full-time. According to Forbes, the human trafficking industry has an estimated profit of $32 billion. As a Christian, LaRoche felt it was wrong to continue playing baseball for millions of dollars after witnessing the horrors of sex trafficking. He has been working on undercover missions since his retirement.
Though Marisol Nicholas is famous for her role as Hermione Lodge on Riverdale, it’s not her most important role. Her most important role doesn’t even make it on screen — her undercover work to help lure sex traffickers into traps and put them behind bars.
Nichols is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and was inspired to work undercover after guest-starring in several crime dramas throughout her acting career. She volunteers to use her acting skills to help law enforcement catch predators. When discussing her work in catching sex trafficking rings, she said, “These guys look like normal people. And you’re pretending that you just happily and eagerly set up children for them to have sex with. To watch his eyes,” she continued, speaking of the sick pleasure these predators evidenced when they discussed the crimes they wanted to perform, “you want to kick him in the balls and beat the hell out of him.”
Nichols volunteers to use her acting skills to help law enforcement catch predators.
She’s also the founder of Foundation for a Slavery Free World, a charity dedicated to ending modern-day slavery. When discussing her foundation, she said, "Once you dive down this rabbit hole, it’s hard to turn it off; you can’t un-know it at all. And so I’ve tried and will continue to try to give a voice to this issue, lend whatever I can to help make a difference and to mobilize people to stand together to put an end to this because, to me, the biggest problem of it is that most people don’t even know it occurs. Good people don’t know. And if good people don’t know about it, we can’t do anything about it."
Power and influence come with responsibility, and celebrities have a lot of power and influence in today’s culture. Luckily, some celebrities are using their platforms for good and are helping fight the horrors of sex trafficking.