July 26, 2010 | 10:13 AM
Who She Is: Cambodian author and human rights advocate Somaly Mam is an outspoken advocate on behalf of trafficked women and girls. And she knows first-hand the horrors of sex trafficking. As a child, she was orphaned by the Khmer Rougue regime, and was then victimized again when a man who promised to help her find her missing parents sold her into sex slavery. After years of abuse, Somaly eventually escaped and vowed to help other women and girls in her situation.
Why We Love Her: In 1996 she founded AFESIP, a Cambodian NGO aimed at helping rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking. In 2007, she launched the Somaly Mam Foundation, which helps financially support anti-trafficking organizations and promotes the rescue, recovery and rehabilitation of sex trafficking victims. Her work has garnered dozens of accolades and awards – including being named 2006 Glamour Woman of the Year and a CNN Hero.
Quote: “I’ve committed my life to fighting this horrible scourge on humanity. Seeing innocent young women and children whose lives have been forever scarred leaves no doubt that they need a champion who is willing to invest all their time and energy towards eradicating the shameful practice of human trafficking. 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.”
The Somaly Mam Foundation: www.somaly.org
Written by Julie Gerstein