The Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF), the anti-sex-trafficking organization whose founder’s back-story as a sex slave has been the center of controversy after it was exposed as a fabrication, announced Saturday it had shuttered its entire operation in September and urged its followers to support other anti-trafficking groups.
“There are many outstanding organizations that share these values while dedicated to the eradication of trafficking and slavery. We decided that going forward, the right opportunity for our staff and our supporters would be to support those many great organizations. As of September 30, we officially ceased all operations, ended all grant funding, and permanently closed our doors,” states an announcement posted to the foundation’s website.
“This was a very difficult decision, but we feel strongly that this is the best course of action for our many wonderful supporters. We are grateful for the tireless devotion of the Foundation staff, vendors, partners and advisors over the years,” the announcement says.
It is signed by “the former board of directors.”
The SMF website on Saturday appeared to be stripped of all its content except for the announcement on its homepage.
The announcement makes no mention of the foundation’s co-founder whose name it bears, Somaly Mam, who has been struggling to restore her reputation after a number of investigations by The Cambodia Daily and a cover story by Newsweek exposed mistruths in many of her claims about her life. The stories also revealed that Ms. Mam had coached a girl under her care to tell horrific, and fabricated, stories about her experiences of sexual abuse.
Ms. Mam resigned from the organization in May following the publication of Newsweek’s story about her deceptions. At the same time, SMF removed one of the foundation’s “voices for change ambassadors,” Long Pros, from any affiliation with the organization after her story–that one of her eyes was gouged out by an angry pimp–was also revealed to have been made up.
In March, SMF retained the U.S.-based law firm Goodwin Procter to conduct an independent investigation into allegations about Ms. Mam’s past as well as the story of Ms. Pros. SMF has repeatedly refused to release the Goodwin Proctor investigation or disclose what the law firm uncovered.
SMF first opened in 2007 as an organization to raise funds for Afesip, the anti-sex trafficking NGO co-founded by Ms. Mam, who rose to stardom and built connections among high-powered celebrities and politicians, mostly in the U.S., to raise millions for her cause.
Since being forced out of her eponymous foundation in May, Ms. Mam has moved back to Cambodia and hit back at the reports of her dishonesty, saying she has “nothing to hide” about her past.
The Cambodia Daily’s investigation into Somaly Mam