The Washington Post has an excellent article about a Cambodian woman, Somaly Mam , who was sold to a brothel at the tender age of 16, after having been raped at age 12 and sold into marriage at 14.
Today, her work against human trafficking is monumental and is recognized not only in Cambodia, where she runs one of the largest NGOs to combat human trafficking, but also worldwide. She has rescued girls as young as 4 who were sold into prostitution by their families.
Along the way, somehow she learned not to be silent. That is the most extraordinary part of her shocking life’s journey, an achievement she still cannot fully explain. Her hard-earned ability to speak out has helped her rescue 4,000 girls and women from brothels in the last decade. It has helped her build one of the largest nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia, with 150 employees, sheltering 220 women and girls in that country, with more in shelters in Vietnam and Laos. And earlier this month it brought her to Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to pass a law against human trafficking.
“What can we do to help you?” asked Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), receiving Mam in her office.
“Your pressure can help,” Mam replied, saying that the United States can be an example to Cambodia and other countries where trafficking is rampant.
A bill to bolster an existing anti-trafficking statute has passed the House and is before the Senate. About 2 million people a year are trapped in sexual bondage or labor servitude as a result of trafficking, including thousands in the United States, according to the State Department.
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