Somaly Mam is featured in the first night of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
Born to a tribal minority in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, Somaly Mam grew up as an orphan, living in extreme poverty. As a young girl, Mam was sold into sexual slavery by a man who posed as her grandfather.
Forced to work in a brothel along with other children, Mam was brutally tortured and raped on a daily basis. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing she would meet that same fate, Mam heroically escaped her captors and set about to build a new life for herself. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.
In 1996, Mam established a Cambodian nongovernmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire). Under Mam's leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight, but also have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Mam has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world.
For her tireless efforts, Mam has justifiably garnered worldwide respect and is now a renowned leader at the forefront of the anti-trafficking struggle.
Want to help?
Buy an empowerment necklace handmade by survivors of sex trafficking in one of Somaly’s centers. The $25 you spend will provide one month of specialized vocational training to a survivor. Or, check out other items in the online store and buy gifts for your friends while raising awareness about how Somaly Mam’s centers provide aid to victims of the sex trade in Cambodia. All purchases directly support survivor rescue, shelter, recovery and more.