NEW YORK (AFP)
A former Cambodian sex slave turned activist is to be honoured by US magazine Glamour at a ceremony in New York for her work rescuing girls from brothels in Southeast Asia.
Somaly Mam will be presented with one of the magazine's Women of the Year awards by Mariane Pearl, the widow of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamic militants in Pakistan in 2002.
"Somaly Mam is an inspiration to women around the world," Glamour Editor in Chief Cindi Leive said ahead of the ceremony. "She overcame horrific childhood abuse and has devoted her life to rescuing other girls from similar fates."
"She's bringing the issue of sexual slavery to the attention of the world, thus giving the hundreds of thousands of children who are currently enslaved in brothels a real shot at a better life," she said in the statement.
As a child, Mam was sold into sex slavery and has devoted her life to saving other girls caught up in the sex trafficking industry, some as young as five years old and many sold by their own parents, Glamour said.
Mam's organisation, AFESIP, rescues young girls from brothels, then educates and trains them. Since 1996, the group has rehabilitated some 3,000 girls in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Glamour Women of the Year prizes are awarded to "gutsy female leaders in their field who inspire us all," according to the magazine.
Previous winners include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, pop star Britney Spears and Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was gang-raped in 2002 and later brought her attackers to justice.