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Award-winning Cambodian activist quits after probes into her past

Published on May 29, 2014 9:34 PM
 
Somaly Mam, former Cambodian child prostitute but now a highly controversial anti-trafficking activist with her organisation Afesip (a French acronym for Acting for Women in Distressing Situations), was in Singapore to speak at the Nomura Asia Equity Forum 2012. Somaly Mam, a Cambodian known globally for her fight against sex trafficking, has quit the foundation that bears her name after a private investigation into the validity of stories she told to raise public awareness and millions of dollars in funds. -- ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Somaly Mam, a Cambodian known globally for her fight against sex trafficking, has quit the foundation that bears her name after a private investigation into the validity of stories she told to raise public awareness and millions of dollars in funds.

The foundation said Somaly Mam resigned following an investigation by U.S. law firm Goodwin Procter, which looked into her personal history and the background of a victim of trafficking whose story the foundation used to publicise its work.

"As a result of Goodwin Procter's efforts, we have accepted Somaly's resignation effective immediately," Gina Reiss-Wilchins, executive director of the Somaly Mam Foundation, said in a statement. "While we are extremely saddened by this news, we remain grateful to Somaly's work over the past two decades and for helping to build a foundation that has served thousands of women and girls."

The resignation came just days after a cover report in Newsweek magazine, written by former Cambodia Daily journalist Simon Marks, whose reporting in the past two years identified numerous inconsistencies in Somaly Mam's personal story and those of victims her foundation said it had helped to rescue.

 
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