Recently I read a book entitled “The Road of Lost Innocence” by Somaly Mam, a former victim of sexual slavery in Cambodia. Somaly was born into a poor family in a small village within the forest. A few years before the Khmer Rouge seized power of Cambodia, Somaly’s family fled the forest leaving her behind in the care of her grandmother. Soon after her parents left, her grandmother disappeared, leaving Somaly to fend for herself at a young age.
Somaly was first sold into servitude by a neighbor in her village. The man who purchased her forced her to call him ‘grandfather’ and often beat her and sold her ‘services’ to various people to pay off his debt. When he needed more money, he eventually married her off. Her husband abused her and she dealt with constant criticism from the community. Later, she ended up working at a brothel to continue to pay her grandfather’s debt. During her time there, she endured many hardships and saw many horrible crimes committed against the other girls working at the hostels.
Somaly was fortunate enough to escape her brothel life. She married a French man and was able to set up a foundation called AFESIP in 1996. Through AFESIP, she has rescued, rehabilitated, reintegrated and provided shelter to thousands of Cambodian girls who are victims of sexual slavery. Today, Somaly is a human rights advocate focusing on the issue of human trafficking.
Isn’t human trafficking a thing of the past?
Absolutely not. Human trafficking is still occurring today. In July 2011, Marie Claire published an article about Sreypov Chan, a former victim of sexual slavery from Cambodia. She was forced into the business in Phnom Penh at the young age of seven years old.
“When she was 7 years old—an age when most girls are going to slumber parties—she was sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, to work as a sex slave. The woman who made the sale: her mother.
For years, pimps forced Sreypov to have sex with as many as 20 men a day. If she didn’t meet her quota, or if she tried to run away, she was punished in unthinkable ways—burned with a hot poker, covered with biting insects. And worse. “I wanted to die,” she says.
Sreypov is among the lucky ones. At age 10, she managed to break free of the brothels and start a new life. Today, she’s ready to tell her story, talking openly about her enslavement and escape, and about coming to terms with her dark past.”
Human trafficking only occurs in third world and poor countries.
Incorrect. Human trafficking is a global issue with over 12 million people currently working as sexual slaves. Human trafficking is an issue that even is affecting America. In a short video entitled ALONE, Danielle McCullum tells the story of Jessie, a young girl dragged into sexual slavery in the United States.
The harsh reality.
This music video by Mr. J. Medeiros called Constance, brings awareness to the issue of sexual slavery in the Philippines.
I want to get involved.
There are many agencies that you can get involved with to help fight sexual slavery and human trafficking. Watch the informational video below to see how you can support Somaly Mam and her foundation in Cambodia.