Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Road of Lost Innocence
Born in Cambodia and orphaned at an early age, Somaly Mam, a Buddhist sex trade survivor, grew up never knowing her real name or birthday.
As a teenager, Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution and spent years in the brothels of Cambodia where she witnessed and experienced the full-blown horrors of the human sex trade – rape, torture, and nearly unfathomable abuse. After her eventual escape, she could not forget the young girls (some as young as 5) left behind in the brothels, and so she returned to serve them.
Her new book, "The Road of Lost Innocence," is her newest means of advocacy. It tells her personal story, ultimately inviting people of conscience to become involved (or to continue involvement) in this war against an epic evil, a modern battle for "the least of these." Truly, not only is this book worth reading, it's worth sharing.
From the opening words, this book captured my attention. Then it broke my heart.
This is one of the hardest books that I've ever read. It is not for the faint of heart. I am the mom of two darling girls, and I had a difficult time reading about the horrors of the sex trade. It is so difficult to fathom all that Somaly experienced. What really struck me is that she and I are around the same age.
When I was a little girl growing up in my safe, close American family, Somaly was struggling to survive. When I was a young teen worried about bad perms and braces, she was experiencing unimaginable abuse in a Cambodian brothel.
I am so grateful for Somaly Mam's courage in rescuing girls from the same fate she herself had to suffer. To that end, she formed two organizations: In Cambodia, AFESIP (in French, it stands for Acting for Women in Distressing Situations) helps rescue young children from these brothels. In the United States, there is The Somaly Mam Foundation.
I greatly admire Somaly Mam and her inner strength to carry out this important work. She is a courageous woman.
The book is detailed, certainly, but not in a titillating or tantalizing way. It's just the truth according to Somaly Mam's experience.
She closes the book by saying, “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?”
To purchase the book (and please know that a portion of the book's proceeds go to the Somaly Mam Foundation), please click here.