Somaly Mam Appeals to Local Television Audience for Funds

Disgraced anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam on Monday appeared on television to promote Afesip, the NGO that she founded to fight sex slavery, and to ask for donations from Cambodian viewers.

Ms. Mam resigned as president of the Somaly Mam Foundation last year after media reports revealed she had fabricated her backstory and coached young girls to lie about their past in order to raise funds. She resigned from Afesip in 2013, the NGO said last year.

As part of an apparent push to raise funds in the wake of the scandal—which saw her eponymous foundation close down and Afesip scale back its work due to funding cuts—Ms. Mam appeared on the PPCTV network’s CTV8HD channel Monday.

CTV8HD presenter Sem Bora asked viewers to attend an Afesip fundraising event in Kompong Cham province on May 25 on behalf of the director of PPCTV.

Ms. Mam told the presenter that the anti-trafficking NGO still attracts funding from overseas.

“Many overseas countries are helping, such as Australia, the United States of America, European countries like France and Germany. Hollywood actors and actresses and government officials help too,” she said.

Ms. Mam also used her airtime to highlight the problem of young girls falling into prostitution.

“Do they all want to do this? I’m sure they will answer that if they had a choice they would go to do other work,” she said.

Ms. Mam pointed to a society still reeling from the war of the 1970s and 1980s as a driver of prostitution in the country.

“The question is what factors push them to become prostitutes? We must talk about the society—we saw that our Khmer society experienced suffering for 20 years since the Lon Nol regime until the Pol Pot regime that massacred and brought civil war,” she said.

Contacted by telephone Monday, Mr. Bora said that he had no intention of grilling Ms. Mam about the controversy surrounding her, and was under the impression she remained director of Afesip.

“I invited her as director of Afesip…and I did not know if she had resigned from her position or not and I did not ask her about her problems,” said Mr. Bora.

Sao Chhoeurth, executive director of Afesip, declined to comment, referring questions to Ms. Mam.

sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com

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