Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher is firing back at “The Village Voice” today on Twitter, publicly questioning the publication’s facts and practices.
The Twitter war started early Thursday after the Voice published an article called “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight,” which criticizes the child prostitution statistics that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore use in their "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign.
At issue, are the accurate numbers related to child prostitution and trafficking in the United States and who has the right figures.
Kutcher says in their campaign that 100,000 to 300,000 children are used for prostitution every year. The Voice contends that the number of child prostitutes is actually "a much smaller fraction."
According to the authors of the article, Martin Cizmar, Ellis Conklin and Kristen Hinman, the message of “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” is “somewhat bewildering.”
“The real issue is that no one has called out Kutcher and Moore for their underlying thesis. There are not 100,000 to 300,000 children in America turning to prostitution every year. The statistic was hatched without regard to science. It is a bogeyman. But well-intentioned Hollywood celebrities aren't the only ones pushing this particular hot button,” the article in the Voice says.
Earlier this year, the two actors kicked off the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) to raise awareness about child slavery in the U.S.
Kutcher, greatly displeased with the facts in the article published in the Voice, started firing off heated Twitter responses prompting feedback from thousands of followers. He has a reported seven million Twitter followers.
Here are some of Kutcher’s Tweets to the Village Voice today:
“Hey @villagevoice if you ever want 2 have a productive conversation about how 2 end human trafficking as oppose to belittling my efforts lmk…”
“hey @villagevoice hows the lawsuit from the 15 year old victim who alleges you helped enslave them going?”
“Hey @villagevoice I'm just getting started!!!!!!!! BTW I only PLAYED stupid on TV.”
He also provided a link to a page to provide his perspective on human trafficking data. The actor contends, "Human trafficking data is extremely incomplete due to the psychological complexity of the issue and the lack of funding that has been allocated to research. Often times the data becomes conflated due to the lack of transparency from the victims themselves."
Media reports today contend that Kutcher isn’t the only person quoting this figure. The Voice also said other publications including CNN, The New York Times, and USA Today have all repeated the statistic.
The problem, according to The Voice, is that the figure is inaccurate. It came from a report published by two professors at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Not only does the figure itself not refer to actual child prostitutes – instead the 100,000 to 300,000 figure is related to children who are ‘at risk’ for sexual exploitation," the article infers.
“Even if we concede that the 100,000 to 300,000 child prostitute figure is an overestimate, why does The Voice‘s story focus on Kutcher – as opposed to all the other organizations that have also overused this likely inaccurate number?” reports the Mashable.com website.
“The article’s criticism seems to be less about the debate between whether celebrities help or hurt philanthropic causes and more about some of Kutcher’s social allies.”
The bottom line, analysts say, is that the numbers can be confused because human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and affects both foreigners and American citizens.
It is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, providing or obtaining of a person by means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of a commercial sex act or labor services.
Many people think human trafficking only happens in other countries.
However, the message Kutcher and The Voice are trying to get out is that child exploitation as a modern-day form of slavery is increasingly an American problem.
New research shows victims of human trafficking include foreigners who are brought across international borders, as well as U.S. citizens and residents who are trafficked within U.S. borders.
On a global scale, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked each year and become victims of commercial sex exploitation and forced labor. Eighty percent of these victims are women and children, according to the Children at Risk website.
Nationally, more than 200,000 American children are at risk for being lured into sex trafficking each year.
Child prostitution is a problem the FBI says is getting worse.
"The money involved in prostituting children is much higher than just regular prostitution," said FBI agent John Gillies.
On Twitter, Kutcher has also been responding to the Voice’s allegations by pointing out its own conflict because of its association with its “Backpage.”