Somaly Mam…a new inspiration


Good morning. My network connection is working for the time being so hopefully I will get this blog done before I lose it again.

I get inspiration for my blogs wherever I can find them. Early this morning I watched PBS Religion and Ethics before I decided to chance the cold by getting out of my nice warm bed. Not every woman in the world is so lucky to have such a bed…or any bed at all.

Sometimes the things I watch with interest inspire me, sometimes they just plain bother me. One of the articles this morning did both. It was a story about a Cambodian woman by the name of Somaly Mam

I have to add Somaly Mam to my list of people who inspire me. If you click on her name, you will read a Global Diary article written over three years ago for Glamour magazine. The author is Mariane Pearl who, herself, lost her journalist husband a few years ago. She was traveling the world writing about women who inspire her. I have to warn you, it is not an easy article to read. There is also a video to watch if you can get it to download.  

The sex slave tragedy
In Cambodia, girls as young as five years old are sold into prostitution every day. New columnist Mariane Pearl meets the woman who’s bringing them hope…and freedom.

Somaly Mam was sold into the sex trade at a very young age by her mother. After several years she escaped and then went back and started helping other young girls escape as well. She was forced by a pimp to watch as he put a gun to the head of her best friend and pulled the trigger. That shot was the incentive she needed to do what she is doing now.

This is not brand new news. She has been doing this since at least 1996. She now has Oprah behind her.  She receives world recognition for her efforts.

In 1998, she received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards for International Cooperation, in the presence of Queen Sofia of Spain.

In 2006, she was one of the eight Olympic flag bearers at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Torino (Italy),

In October 2006, she was named a Glamour WOMAN OF THE YEAR at a presentation at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Her award was presented by Mariane Pearl, the journalist, who had been present in Cambodia at the time of the kidnapping of Somaly’s daughter. 

In June 2007 ,Somaly created the US based Somaly Mam Foundation which will officially launch in September 2007.

In 2008, Mam was awarded the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child in Sweden for her “dangerous struggle” to defend the rights of children in Cambodia.

In 2008 November: The Roland Berger Human Dignity Award, the 1 million euro award from the Munich-based Roland Berger Foundation that rivals in amount the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2009, she was named one of TIME Magazine‘s 100 most influential people, with an article written by actress  Angelina Jolie.

I’m  sure she is not doing this work for the recognition. She is doing it to rescue young children and young women who have been caught up in the tragedy of a society which is run by men who care nothing about girls other than for what the children can do to satisfy them, for pennies at a time.

The PBS video talks about a man who was taken to court for raping a seven year old girl. The judge let him off saying the girl should have known better for wearing such short skirts. How’s that for justice?

My heart cries in such situations. I have seen other undercover TV shows that portrayed American men who go to Cambodia and other Asian countries as a sex tourist. It’s not just Cambodian men who have that same attitude. Men come from all over the world to use these young girls on a vacation. The program showed a video of an American dentist laying on a bed surrounded by several young girls. By young I mean definitely less than ten. As you can read, some of them are as young as five.

Somaly Mam herself married and had three children of her own before divorcing her husband. She claims he was a good man. She just couldn’t love him the way he deserved to be loved. That’s what being treated in such a manner does to a girl. It forever robs them of their ability to truly love a man for the rest of their lives. It kills the parts of their spirits that allows them to reach out for that love.

Somaly Mam does reach out and does receive undying love and affection from the girls she helps to escape from such a horrendous life. She is able to handle that and it sustains her and keeps her going.  She deserves the praise and recognition she is getting. One at a time we can change the world.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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