Somaly Mam – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women™

is honored to Celebrate the Life of this woman, one that has risen above one of our planet’s most horrific inhumanities to woman; sexual slavery and human trafficking. Using her experience and survival skills, this powerhouse now devotes her life to the freedom of all young women and girls to speak out fearlessly, shamelessly to STOP THE VIOLENCE Against Women and Girls.

 

 

 

WOMAN of ACTION™

 
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Somaly Mam

 
 
 
 
Born to a tribal minority family in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, Somaly Mam began life in extreme poverty. With limited options as a severely marginalized ethnic group, and living in unimaginable despair, her family often resorted to desperate means to survive. This confluence of dire circumstances led to Somaly being sold into sexual slavery at a very young age.

Somaly was forced to work in a brothel along with other women and children for many years, and was brutally tortured and raped. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Deciding then that she would no longer “keep her silence,” Somaly heroically escaped her captors and began to build a new life abroad.

visionBut she vowed never to forget those she left behind, and soon returned to Southeast Asia.

She dedicated her life’s work to saving victims, building shelters and programs for healing, and empowering survivors to become agents of change. In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire).

Under Somaly’s leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight, but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Somaly 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. Somaly estimates that she and her team have assisted over 7,000 victims to date.

somaly saving childrenUniversally recognized as a visionary for her courage, dignity, ingenuity, and resilience, Somaly has been honored as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and as a CNN Hero.

She is also the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award, one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in 2011, one of Fast Company’s 2012 League of Extraordinary Women, and has won accolades from the US Department of Homeland Security and her work recognized by the US Department of State.

She has been a guest on the Tyra Banks show, Fox and Friends, America’s Most Wanted, and was featured on Oprah and CNN. She has participated in the World Economic Forum at Davos and DLD conference, the 2011 Newark Peace Summit (alongside the Dalai Lama) and conferences including Imagine Solutions, Womenetics, EG, and Crimes Against Children.

But Somaly’s success has come at a price.

She and her family have faced terrifying death threats and violence. Asked why she continues to fight in the face of such fierce and frightening opposition, Somaly resolutely responds, “I don’t want to go without leaving a trace.” Despite the fact that she is known the world over and has certainly earned a life of luxury and repose, Somaly continues to spend most of her time in the Cambodian recovery centers with the women and children she rescues, staying by their side as they walk the difficult path to recovery and freedom.

Somaly Mam and the Somaly Mam Foundation has saved over 7000 girls and women from the sex slavery trade since Somaly began her crusade back in 1994.

Somaly Mam herself a victim of the sex slave trade since the age of fourteen escaped in 1990 from the brothel she was enslaved to (and served for over a decade), where she would be repeatedly gang raped, tortured, and a witness to vicious murders at the hands of her captors, whilst living in a cage and only to be released to solicit for more money as a prostitute on a daily basis.

However despite all of these atrocities Somaly’s story is one of hope, inspiration love and support to both put an end to the sex slave and human trafficking industry and the women afflicted by its cruelties.
 
In our Cambodian regional anti-trafficking radio program called “Somaly’s Family,” Voices For Change leaders address the issue of modern slavery head-on, taking calls from community members and victims, and featuring special guests like lawyers and policy experts. Costs for keeping this innovative and crucial program running can include studio rental, airtime, and hosting. Give today, and help us keep this program on the air through 2013. Clip courtesy of Show of Force/ Half the Sky Movement.

The “Somaly’s Family” Anti-Trafficking Radio Show


 
Somaly Mam, her life story and her crusade has drawn the attention of the world’s media to shine its light on her movement. Aside from changing the lives of girls and women, her cause has seen her be the recipient of international acclaim such as the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, twice being recognized as being in the 100 most influential women of the world, Glamour Magazines’ Woman of the Year and Forbes Magazine most Powerful Woman in 2011 and the Mony Saraphorn Medal presented by the King of Cambodia.

The Somaly Mam Foundation today has firmly cemented its place on the global stage and includes high profile board members such as Susan Sarandon, Daryl Hannah, Ron Livingston, Laurie Holden & Petra Nemcova on the foundation’s Global Advisory Board and Brandee Barker as one of the Board of Directors, as well as being acknowledged by the United Nations and the foundation’s shelter being visited by Hillary Clinton.

somaly children smiling freeThe Somaly Mam Foundation has three main goals:

1. First and foremost the protection of victims

2. Implementing a victim-centered approach via holistic care and without discrimination welcome any person who desires to leave sex slavery conditions to reside in one of the AFESIP residential centers. Ensures the women they assist not only escape for good, but have both strong emotional and economic strength to face their new life with hope and optimism.

3. To attain the long-term goal of helping these victims of sex slavery and trafficking to reintegrate back into society without discrimination

Along with adversities, dangers, death threats, sadness and cruelties thought out the foundations ongoing crusade, there has also been many times of joy and celebration; reinforcing hope since Somaly’s escape and the creation of her foundation.

Stories of helping girls to escape, supporting and educating them and helping them to integrate back into society on a high social standing. Recently the foundation celebrating the graduation from law school by one of the girls they saved.

“People ask me how I can bear to keep doing what I do. I’ll tell you. The evil that’s been done to me is what propels me on. Is there any other way to exorcise it?”

somaly picSomaly Mam has written her autobiography The Road of Lost Innocence and with the support of Anita Roddick of the Body Shop they delivered a signed petition to the United Nations to end child sex slavery and trafficking with over seven million signatures.

Today, the Somaly Mam Foundation promotes its global awareness campaign to international governments and organizations throughout the globe.

somaly_logoIt has united the international community of media, entertainment, internet communities and schools to support their campaign to end human trafficking and sex slavery. The foundation is now operating throughout Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, its organization has save over 7000 girls and women to trade and is the largest organization (with the support of over a dozen smaller human rights organizations) to combat and stamp out the human trafficking and sex slavery industry in South East Asia.

While travelling throughout the world promoting her crusade Somaly Mam stays in close contact with her girls, saying she stays in touch via Skype and is happiest when she has the girls near her because they return the love tenfold.

Somaly Mam’s success and crusade has come at a high price. Her personal ordeals, gang rapping’s, torture, death threats and violence against her are horrific. So when asked why she continues to fight for her cause her response is that she doesn’t want to go without leaving a trace.

somaly lBoth in her own resolute strength and her compassionate heart, Somaly Mam is a living inspiration of overcoming extraordinary hardship and instead of seeing herself as a victim (which she has every reason to) she has used these experiences to be a light, hope and inspiration to all mankind.

Somaly Mam is extraordinary.

We look forward to continue writing about her, celebrating her crusade and her dream of ending child and women sex slavery in the world to be mission accomplished.

You can do your part today in helping by paying forward this story about Somaly Mam, her achievements and how despite incredible adversities she continues the fight to make the world a better place.

Somaly_with_childThe Somaly Mam Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to ending modern slavery and empowering its survivors as part of the solution. Human trafficking, a multi-billion dollar industry, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.

With an estimated two million women and children sold into sexual slavery each year, it is a global crisis that must be stopped.

Co-founded by sex slavery survivor Somaly Mam, the Foundation works to eradicate sex slavery, liberate its victims, and empower survivors to create and sustain lives of dignity and as agents of next-generation change. The Foundation supports rescue operations, shelter services, and rehabilitation programs in Southeast Asia, where the trafficking of women and young girls is widespread.

The Somaly Mam Foundation also runs awareness and advocacy campaigns that shed light on the crime of human trafficking, spotlight its brave survivors as living examples of change, and engage the public, business sectors, and governments in the fight to abolish modern slavery.

brothel-brothers-0908-medium-newThe founding of the Somaly Mam Foundation was made possible by circumstance, when trafficking survivor and activist Somaly Mam crossed paths with two Americans determined to help build global awareness and support for the fight against child slavery.

In early 2007, friends and Air Force Academy graduates, Jared Greenberg and Nicholas Lumpp, became aware of a growing international crisis. The sex slave trade had developed into the third most profitable criminal industry, behind only narcotics and weapons. Governments had yet to effectively handle the problem, and funding for organizations fighting the illegal trade was minimal.

Disturbed by the public’s lack of awareness of these ongoing atrocities, Jared and Nicholas decided it was time to Take Action and help put an end to sexual slavery, once and for all. But with an industry that generates $12 billion a year, enslaves millions of young women and children, and is protected by corrupt government and law enforcement officials, they had their work cut out for them.

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They told me they could help me to find a job, and my family was poor and needed food. The job turned out to be in a brothel. I was forced to take 20 to 30 clients a day, and was denied food or tortured if I refused or asked for a break. The money went straight back to the brothel owner, to pay off my ‘debt’ for room and board. They threatened to find me and kill me if I left.

This is slavery.

HumanTrafficking is in our neighbourhood

Human trafficking is considered the world’s second largest, fastest growing ‘organized crime‘. The International Labor Organization estimates up to 20.9 million people toiling as modern slaves around the globe, and UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are sold every year. The ILO estimates that 55 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls, as are 98 percent of sex trafficking victims.

The human trafficking business is a multi-billion dollar industry. Sex trafficking alone is estimated to generate $7 billion per year, but INTERPOL believes the number to be closer to $19 billion.

The Asia Pacific region (which includes South Asia) has the largest number of victims in forced labor – 11.7 million. Additionally, 55 percent of forced labor victims are estimated to be women and girls, as are 98 percent of sex trafficking victims. Virgins are sold for an average of $482 (and as little as $200). The average client pays $5 for services.

These numbers are startling, and this global crisis necessitates a global response.

The Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF) is working to end these atrocities through direct services for victims, survivor-driven advocacy, strategic multidisciplinary partnerships, and mass media and online platforms. Somaly Mam, a survivor and present-day activist, speaks at conferences, summits, and universities worldwide to share her story and address her solution: empowering survivors as the next generation of change-makers.

Together, we are committed to building a world free from slavery: a reality that we truly believe is possible in our lifetime.

Click here to learn more about our approach.

Recovery

somaly Medical-check-up-to-victim-in-center-039Srey was then taken to a center for recovery and skills training. In addition to safety and protection, the centers offer medical and psychological assessments, evaluations of educational level and social development, childcare, and legal assistance.

As Somaly often says, “It can take five minutes to save a girl from the brothel, but it can take five years – or ten, or more – to recover them.”

Fate intervened a few months later when Jared and Nicholas viewed an online video clip of Anderson Cooper 360 and saw a show spotlighting an extraordinary woman by the name of Somaly Mam. Sold into slavery at a young age, she later escaped and made it her mission to rescue and rehabilitate other victims and help them to reintegrate into their communities with economic and emotional independence and hope.

The result was AFESIP, an organization that has transformed the lives of thousands of victims of the illegal trade since its inception in 1996.

Somaly is now regarded as one of the most prolific activists fighting sexual slavery.

Jared and Nicholas hopped on a plane and traveled into the center of the sex slave industry. They talked with Somaly Mam, toured facilities, and met some of the young women who had been rescued. The experience changed their lives. Yet they realized that many people around the world do not know this industry even exists.

Increasing awareness and funding organizations like AFESIP seemed paramount to combating the illegal trade. Then, during an inspiring conversation on a car ride from Phnom Pehn to Siem Reap, Somaly explained her vision for a U.S. based organization that would take her life’s passion to the next level: to expand and improve victim services, to prevent trafficking with grassroots advocacy and education, and to provide a platform for the survivor voice to be heard around the world.

somaly_logoThe Somaly Mam Foundation was born.

Our Vision: A world where women and children are safe from slavery.
Our Mission: To give victims and survivors a voice in their lives, liberate victims, end slavery, and empower survivors as they create and sustain lives of dignity.

The Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the USA and is incorporated in Canada.
EIN: 26-0392207
BN: 838742864RR0001
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Thanks to The Xtraordinary

 
 

 

 

A Celebration of Women™

welcomes this wonderful tower of experience, strength and hope into our Alumni with open arms, and look forward to advocating her work, celebrating her  victories and creating positive change in our world, together.

 
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Brava Somaly!

 

 

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