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**UPDATE**

After I wrote this piece the other day, I was inspired by my conversation with Ashton about modern day slavery.  After a day of reflection, I want to further commit myself to working on this worldwide epidemic, and challenge my peers and colleagues to join me on this mission.

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Shockingly, as I blog this to you more than 27 million people worldwide are enslaved. Two million children are bought and sold in the global commercial sex trade. In just the United States, between 100,000 and 300,000 children are enslaved and sold for sex.

The sex slavery industry has become an increasingly lucrative revenue source for organized crime because each young girl can earn between $150,000 and $200,000 each year for her pimp.

Are you surprised? Of course you are! It hasn’t been on our media radar that thousands of children are forced into domestic sex slavery each year and that the average age of entry is 13 years old (this includes runaways, victims of abuse, kids that have no family structure and support, etc). Fortunately, my friend Ashton Kutcher and his lovely wife, Demi are fighting back. Ashton and Demi have an edgy campaign that includes the basic message of “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” message and they have enlisted a slew of their celebrity friends (such as Justin Timberlake, Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Jaime Foxx among others) to help further their cause. Their mission statement is simple: Freedom is a basic human right and slavery is one of the greatest threats to that freedom. No one has the right to enslave another person-the right to be free is a building block of our DNA. 

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As the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador to the Permanent Memorial Of The Transatlantic Slave Trade, I know far too well the devastation slavery has had around the world, yet am disappointed that the issue of modern day slavery does not make front page news.

Ashton, who is in NYC launching his “Real Men” campaign at a party where he will announce the winners of the campaign’s Thread less T-shirt Design Challenge with Steven Alan, called me sounding as passionate as ever (although rightfully frustrated) when he said, “People are messing with me, cause they are acting as what I am saying is frivolous, as if I am not treating the issue with enough respect. But, there have been tons of documentaries already made on this subject, and it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. Men have take responsibility for the harm they’re causing.” He went on to ask the hard questions “Where is the next MLK? John Brown? Frederick Douglas?? Where are the next abolitionists? When are men going to stand up and become the next abolitionists?” My response? “Baby, that’s YOU…you are doing it now. You are going to take this issue and bring it to the mainstream. YOU are the next abolitionist!” He answered, “It’s hard to be the next abolitionist.”

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I know that it is, but Ashton has what it takes to see this through. There might be some people who want to call his work frivolous, but he is trending on Twitter and on every Facebook page with one of the greatest awareness campaigns that I have ever seen, while they are on the sidelines doing nothing to solve this problem. What he and Demi are doing is beyond remarkable, it will change the course of our history.

This blog probably took you five minutes to read … that gives five more minutes to do something that can change the lives of those who are suffering right now … five minutes to get involved by going to facebook because EVERY 10 minutes, a woman or child is trafficked into the United States for forced labor.

We must join Ashton and Demi to help! Not a minute to spare…

Russell Simmons

demiandashton.org/ 
facebook.com/dnafoundation

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