Cambodian activist awarded German prize

25th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The award, worth 1 million euros, was established this year to promote peaceful cooperation in the world.

Berlin -- A Cambodian woman dedicated to fighting human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children and women received a German prize on Monday for her work.

Somaly Mam was honored with the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award at a ceremony at Berlin's Konzerthaus attended by German President Horst Koehler.

The award, worth 1 million euros (1.27 million dollars), was established this year to promote peaceful cooperation in the world.

Koehler noted that the prize was going to a woman who had experienced "unspeakable suffering" after herself being forced into sexual slavery in her native country.

"Today she is fighting to ensure that other women and girls are spared this fate," the president said in remarks prepared for delivery at the awards ceremony.

"We are honoring a woman whose story is shocking but which at the same time gives hope; a woman who through her commitment to preserve human dignity is an example to us all," he said.

Somaly Mam, who was born in 1970, managed to escape her subjugation, and has been fighting for the victims of human trafficking and slavery ever since.

Together with her supporters, she has freed thousands of children and women from sexual slavery in Asia, and helped them reintegrate into society and lead a self-determined life in dignity.

In addition to her work in the field, Somaly Mam uses her fearless voice in political lobbying and numerous campaigns against human trafficking, said the award citation.

Some 2-4 million women and children worldwide are sold into prostitution every year, according to figures compiled by the United Nations.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates 12.3 million are working as forced laborers as a modern form of slavery, while other organizations cite figures between 4-27 million. Another ILO study says there are 218 million children forced to work "illegally".

The prize is named after Roland Berger, a retired professor who set up a global marketing consultancy in 1967.


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