At any given moment, an estimated 2.4 million people around the world are the victims of human trafficking. In the Independent Lens documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, celebrity activist and CARE Ambassador Meg Ryan travels to Cambodia with Nicholas Kristof to visit Somaly Mam with the Somaly Mam Foundation, a nonprofit charity committed to ending modern day slavery and empowering its survivors to be part of the solution.
In a society where females are considered the insignificant sex, Cambodia is a country where most uneducated young girls are likely to not only be raped, but killed as well. The most common form of human trafficking in Cambodia is sexual exploitation. According to TWN, today, there are an estimated 57,000 commercial sex workers in Cambodia.
Human-rights advocate Somaly Mam is the founder and president of the Somaly Mam Foundation in Cambodia. At a young age Somaly was raped, trafficked, and brutally mistreated by her brothel owners. She was forced into prostitution against her will and witnessed her best friend’s murder by one of the brothel owners. Fortunately, she managed to escape and break free from the chains of sexual exploitation.
Today, Somaly considers herself as the mother and grandmother of all the suffering girls who have been sex slaves in Cambodia. Her mission is to help victims become survivors. Once the girls are rescued, they are often rejected by their families and by society due to the self-perpetuating sex trade industry. The Half the Sky Movement website states, “Once girls are sold into sex slavery, they often know nothing else and are so stigmatized that they remain in the trade, even when that means selling sex voluntarily.” Fortunately, Somaly educates these girls and helps create a more promising future for them. Continue reading