Somaly Mam, a human rights activist focused on human trafficking and best-selling author, will speak at Agnes Scott College on Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Presser Hall as part of The U.S. Fund for UNICEF Speaker Series Program. 

Dr. Susan Bissell, chief of child protection for the Programme Division of UNICEF, will also speak.

The event is free to Agnes Scott students, faculty and staff as well as college students with a valid ID. General admission is $25. RSVP required for all attendees. 

Born to a tribal minority family in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, Somaly Mam began life in extreme poverty. With limited options as a severely marginalized ethnic group, and living in unimaginable despair, her family often resorted to desperate means to survive. This confluence of dire circumstances led to Mam being sold into sexual slavery at a very young age. Mam was forced to work in a brothel along with other women and children for many years, and was brutally tortured and raped. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Deciding then that she would no longer “keep her silence,” Mam heroically escaped her captors and began to build a new life abroad.

But she vowed never to forget those she left behind, and soon returned to Southeast Asia. She dedicated her life’s work to saving victims, building shelters and programs for healing, and empowering survivors to become agents of change. In 1996, Mam established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). With the launch of the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Mam has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world. Mam estimates that she and her team have assisted over 7,000 victims to date.