The Road of Lost InnocencePaperback Virago Press
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- Publisher: Virago Press Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 224 pages
- Dimensions: 126mm x 194mm x 18mm | 200g
- Publication date: 1 December 2009
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1844083462
- ISBN 13: 9781844083466
- Illustrations note: 8pp of colour photos
- Sales rank: 9,244
Somaly Mam was abandoned as a baby and looked after by her grandmother until she disappeared. She was then taken into the care of a man she called 'grandfather', but was treated no better than an unpaid servant. sold. Raped at twelve, Somaly was forced to marry at fifteen and then sold to a brothel. She endured years of abuse before managing to escape. The Road of Lost Innocence is a moving account of a traumatic childhood and also the inspirational story of a determined and courageous woman devoted to helping other girls caught up in the illegal sex trade and violent underworld in Cambodia. In 1997 Somaly Mam co-founded AFESIP to combat trafficking in women and children for sexual slavery.
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Somaly Mam lives near Phnom Penh with her three children.
** 'Sold into prostitution in Cambodia as a small child, Mam has survived a trauma that is almost beyond the imaginative reach of memoir ... driven by a sense of purpose greater than the self, and related with a haunting directness GUARDIAN ** 'Somaly Mam is my candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is living proof that one woman can change the fate of others AYAAN HIRSI ALI ** 'Written deftly and sparely, this story easily transcends the current rash of 'misery life-stories. Somaly Mam has no truck with sensationalism or self pity: action for change is patently what she is all about.' GOOD HOUSEKEEPING ** 'This is a book about how one person's courage can make a difference'
Candid memoir of a woman trapped in the sex-slave trade, who is now an activist against it."You shouldn't try and discover the past," Mam recalls her adoptive father telling her. "You shouldn't hurt yourself." Born in 1970 or 1971 and torn from her ethnic Phnong family during Cambodia's genocidal civil war, Mam suffered as a child in a Khmer village whose people saw her as "fatherless, black, and ugly," possibly even a cannibal. Her pederast grandfather sold her virginity to a Chinese merchant to whom he owed money, a prize in a culture where raping a virgin was believed to cure AIDS. He then sold her to a soldier who "beat me often, sometimes with the butt of his rifle on my back and sometimes with his hands." From there it was a short path to what Mam calls "ordinary prostitution," working for a madam who was quick to hit and slow to feed. In time, after a series of indignities that she recounts in painful detail, Mam extricated herself to live with a French humanitarian-aid worker. Married, she moved with him to France, where she discovered that "French people could be racist, just like the Khmers." Burdened with an unpleasant mother-in-law, she welcomed the chance to return to Cambodia, working in a Doctors Without Borders clinic and turning her home into a kind of halfway house for abused, drug-addicted and ill prostitutes, most of whom were very young. Mam recounts her battles against government officials, pimps, brothel keepers and other foes in a campaign that brought death threats against her, but that slowly gathered force as it gained funding from UNICEF and several European governments. That campaign is ongoing, and Mam concludes that there's plenty left to do, since Cambodia is "in a state of chaos where the only rule is every man for himself."An urgent, though depressing, document, worthy of a place alongside Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone, Rigoberto Menchu's autobiography and other accounts of overcoming Third World hardship. (Kirkus Reviews)