You could be forgiven for believing that slavery ended in the US nearly 150 years ago. But that was only one type of slavery. According to government estimates, there are still as many as 90,000 people in bondage in this country, and many of them are children. Other estimates suggest that as many as 300,000 children are being sexually exploited for profit in the USA.
It's a big problem, and a difficult one to manage: while there are willing customers for this kind of 'service', there will be criminals willing to exploit it, regardless of the risks. You can take these criminals off the street, but someone else will take their place. You can make the laws tougher, but there will always be someone who thinks they can get away with it. You can enforce it better in one place, but that'll just divert them somewhere else.
In a supply-and-demand economy, the only way to really effectively reduce supply is to reduce demand.
Which is precisely the premise Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are working on, with the recent launch of the Demi & Ashton (DNA) Foundation's "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" interactive video campaign, which gives you the opportunity to make videos 'with' celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Sean Penn, Jamie Foxx, and Jason Mraz, that show that you either are a real man, or that you like real men. A 'real man' being, of course, one that doesn't procure minors for sex.
Once you've made your video, they then invite you to get active and start patrolling the internet, reporting anything that looks like child sexual exploitation. With an army of thousands keeping an eye on this sort of thing, you can be sure that sites like Craigslist and Backpage will really start feeling the heat.
The t-shirt(s)And finally, they want you to buy the t-shirt, in the hope that will help raise awareness on the issue as well. Even if it doesn't, at least you'll have a pretty cool shirt.
So, to sum up, the idea behind this campaign is to shame men and businesses out of exploiting children. As Kutcher - who is 15 years younger than Moore - points out, "The average age of a girl involved in the sex trade is 13, and the average man who buys a girl is 30-years-old, has no
prior criminal record, and has a well-paying job....Once someone goes on record saying they are or aren't going to do something, they tend to be a bit more accountable."
We can but hope.
This is what your video might look like: