“My name is Somaly. At least that’s the name I have now. Like everyone in Cambodia, I’ve had several. Names are the result of temporary choices.”
Somaly Mam was orphaned at a young age in the jungles of northeastern Cambodia. Her memories of her parents are indistinct. She’s not even sure of her exact birth date or year. But at the age of sixteen, her life would change forever. She was sold into prostitution. She has endured countless abuses at the hands of other humans—slavery, rape, beatings, torture, isolation, and shame. Now she is a survivor, mother, and crusader, not only raising awareness of forced prostitution in Southeast Asia, especially of children, but fighting daily in the very streets where she once lived. Her story was remarkable, and yet not so remarkable as she relates the names and stories of other women—and girls—who have the same horrible tale to tell.
Her book was riveting—not so much from the way it was told as I think translated works can sometimes lose their emotional coloring—but from the details of her life, one that you don’t want to have to look at or think about but that you must. I knew that this would be a difficult book to read but I also knew that I needed to read her story and look at her life to understand to some degree that this does happen, is happening.
I encourage you all to read The Road of Lost Innocence and to read not only for her tale but also for the work she is doing to rescue women and help them to heal, regain life, regain dignity.
“Trying to explain it is not what I do. I keep my head down and try to help one girl about another. That is a big enough task.”