She doesn’t know her age, her hometown or who her family is. All Somaly Mam knows is that she was born in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, and that she was sold into sexual slavery by a family member (or someone posing to be a family member), at a very own age. For very many years, the only life Somaly Mam knew was a life of sexual abuse, violence, and rape within a Cambodian brothel. After being forced to watch her best friend murdered before her very eyes, she one day worked up the courage to escape. And escape she did. But the story doesn’t end here….
After living in France for awhile, Somaly Mam returned to Cambodia and founded a non-profit organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire) in 1996 to help others like her escape from the Cambodian sex industry. AFESIP “employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight, but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope.” She also recently founded the Somaly Mam Foundation, a US based non-profit, as a means of supporting AFESIP as well as to “provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world.”
Despite the numerous threats and dangers, and the abduction and trafficking of her own daughter, Somaly Mam refuses to leave Cambodia or stop fighting for those who are still entrapped within Cambodia’s sex industry. When she was asked why she continues despite all the obstacles being thrust in her way, Somaly Mam responded: “I don’t want to go without leaving a trace.”
Learn more about Somaly Mam and the Somaly Mam Foundation by clicking here.
“I cannot wage this fight alone and call upon anyone who cares about the innocent victims to donate their time, money and advocacy to this important cause. Each contribution means everything to the victims and know that I will be forever grateful for those who help make such an important difference.”-Somaly Mam