Jada Pinkett Smith, Mila Kunis Join International 'End Slavery Now!' Campaign (Video)

The actresses have teamed up with Cher, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, Sergio Mendes and others in supporting the International Labour Organization's fight to end slave labor around the world.

For most Americans, slavery is a relic of the Antebellum South, something that ended forever with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The truth is that an estimated 21 million people around the world—most of them women and children—toil as forced labor or work in conditions so oppressive that they can be called “slave-like.” Tragically, one out of every four contemporary slaves is a child. The situation has struck an increasingly resonant chord in Hollywood’s conscience, which is why a new group of top-drawer celebrities has signed on to support the International Labour Organization’s global “End Slavery Now!” campaign.

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Cher, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mila Kunis, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone and Sergio Mendes are among those who’ve recently joined the effort. Already on board are Chaka Khan, Dan Kennedy, Danny Glover, Hans Zimmer, Maria Bello and Paul Haggis. Pinkett Smith this week released a video appeal for the ILO, a subsidiary of the United Nations.

“When we think of slavery,” said Smith, “we think of the past. But the truth is that three out of every 1,000 people in the world today are either in forced labour, have been trafficked or work in slave-like conditions. . .It has to stop.”

In a statement issued from the organization’s Geneva headquarters, ILO Director General Guy Ryder said, “For all of us, having a decent job with a fair wage, having our fundamental rights protected and having access to minimum protection in times of need is a basic aspiration. Sadly, even today, millions of women and men, boys and girls are caught in the nightmare of slavery and forced labour. That’s why the ILO is greatly encouraged to see so many leading artists join this fight.”