Sex trafficking is a booming business all over the world and goes alarmingly unnoticed by just about everyone. Some organisations are so intimidating that activists have a hard time just getting in contact with the children involved, let alone saving them.
It has been estimated that at least 200,000 to 225,000 women and children are trafficked from Southeast Asia annually . A chilling statistic, especially when one remembers that there are very likely much more than that.
This cruel world, however, is not without its saviours. Somaly Mam has risen from a mighty fall, displaying strength and courage where few others would even have a will to live.
In her autobiography, The Road to Lost Innocence, Somaly recounts the traumatic and at times nauseating horrors she faced in the journey from innocent child, to abused domestic servant, to under aged sex slave and back onto her own feet. By this time she was armed with an undying passion to save all the young girls who not only reflect her life, but continue to endure unspeakable horrors that haunt her to this day. Abusers are slated to be increasingly merciless as the trade flourishes and becomes dauntingly lucrative.
Since escaping from the nightmare of sex slavery, Somaly has become an inspiration not just to the ones reading her books, but to little girls all over the world who for no reason have been robbed of their freedom and dignity after being sold into the business.
The Somaly Mam Foundation hosted a workshop highlighting both domestic and international trafficking and showcase various means of engaging in the fight to combat this global, multi-billion dollar criminal industry. This discussion of modern-day slavery included victim rescue, recovery, reintegration and empowerment. The event was the Newark Peace Education Summit, The Power of Nonviolence, May 13-15, 2011.
Somaly displayed how truly remarkable a person she was.
“During her Peace Workshop she changed to casual clothes because she wanted it to be more comfortable and relaxed/friendly environment. She was an incredibly kind, generous, no-airs type of a person. Everybody in the audience was wowed by her presence and the work she has done and continues to do. Many people were brought to tears after hearing various trafficking stories. She spoke about the work she does with her organizations in Asia and how she has worked to bring about change and bring awareness. She is very proud of the girls she has rescued and the love they return to her keeps her driving forward with her work. She works primarily in South East Asia.
“She is a true hero and so inspiring, everyone that attended was incredibly moved by the strength of this one woman,” says Janice, one of our contributors who had the honor of attending the workshop.
She spoke at the “Peace Within” panel with the Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, Deepak Chopra, Roshi Joan Halifax, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tao Porchon-Lynch, Wilbert Rideau, Youth Representative: Mahishan Gnanaseharan.
Photo by Allyson Dufour