Jada Pinkett Smith Takes Stand Against Modern Slavery

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Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation almost 150 years ago. But today, slavery still exists in the United States and around the world.

Advocates say conservative estimates suggest some 40,000 people are enslaved in the United States. That includes everything from forced labor to sexual slavery.

It's an age-old trade around the world that's now become a $32 billion-a-year enterprise.

"Each of us may well have eaten, driven, dressed, or texted with some product that involves, in part, modern day slavery," David Abramowitz, with Humanity United, explained.

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith is using her star power to raise awareness of human trafficking. She issued a wake-up call to Washington this week.

"Fighting slavery doesn't cost a lot of money," she said. "The cost of allowing it to exist in our nation and abroad are much higher."

Congress authorized the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000. But after being reauthorized three times, the legislation has stalled in the Senate.

Sen. John Kerry, chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed that it's an issue that must be addressed sooner than later.

"Slavery, whether in the United States or abroad, must be recognized, rejected, and eliminated," he said.

Pinkett Smith said her daughter brought the issue to her attention after watching Kony 2012, a viral video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony forcing young people to be child soldiers and sex slaves.

But she stressed that the problem isn't just in Africa.

"Children in every country, including our own, are being forced into slavery," Pinkett Smith told lawmakers.

She brought with her three trafficking survivors. They didn't testify but stood to be recognized.

Tuesday's visit was Pinkett Smith's second trip to Washington. She and her husband Will Smith met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month to discuss human trafficking.

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