Sold into a life of sexual slavery early in her life, Ms. Somaly Mam was forced to work in a brothel with other young girls. They were tortured, manipulated and horrifically treated. After watching a close friend murdered by a pimp, Somaly escaped. Driven by her past experiences, she has made it her mission to help young children and women who are victims of sex slavery and human trafficking. In 1995, Somaly joined the mission with Swedish NGO “Médecin Sans Frontère”. A year later, she established an NGO “Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire” (AFESIP) or “Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances”. Today, as President of AFESIP Cambodia, Somaly focuses her efforts on helping prostitutes and trafficked persons in need. The AFESIP runs rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and provides legal aid for victims in their search for justice.
Besides her role as President of AFESIP Cambodia, Somaly has also worked to further the causes of women locally in Cambodia, and internationally around the world. In 1999, Somaly was elected as President of the Confederation of Women’s Organization in ASEAN. She also served as President of the Women Confederation of Cambodian Organization (WCCO), ECPAT-Cambodia, and was the Director of ASEAN Confederation of Women Organization (ACWO).
Somaly has been internationally recognized for her work and efforts in helping “women in distressing circumstances”. In 2005, she was presented with an award as “A Heroine in the Fight Against Human Trafficking”, signed by then Secretary of State, Ms. Condoleezza Rice. In 2007, she was awarded the LexisNexis Rule of Law Award and featured as a “CNN Hero”. The following year, she received double prizes in The World Children Prize Awards in Sweden in recognition and appreciation of her dedication toward the protection of children against sexual abuse. Additionally, at a dialogue that was held in 2008, Rising Asia- The Next 10 Years, she was awarded one of the ten influential individuals who have exemplified the success of Asia today and leadership Asia tomorrow.
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