Editor’s Note: Somaly Mam is a global leader who has pioneered the movement against modern slavery for nearly two decades. She has been recognized as a CNN hero, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year, and one of Time Magazine’s most influential people. Through her work as a tireless advocate and human rights leader, Somaly Mam has made it her life’s mission to eradicate slavery and empower its survivors as part of the solution. This article is part of a series of op-eds from key speakers and delegates participating in this year’s Social Innovation Summit, which takes place on November 19th and 20th at Stanford Business School. View the full series here.
As a survivor of sex slavery, I have dedicated my life’s work to ending it. To many people, the issue of slavery seems like a clear case of right and wrong. The reality is much more complicated. There are many root causes and serious challenges. But these challenges do not stop me from continuing to find solutions to eradicate slavery and empower its survivors as part of the solution.
A significant number of people believe that slavery ended in 1863, when in fact, modern slavery exists in every corner of the globe. Not just in remote parts of Southeast Asia, but in your hometown, in your backyard. In America, there are 60,000 men, women, and children enslaved at this very moment.