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Cambodia: Award honors sex slavery survivor

Sina Vann was 13 when she came to Cambodia from Vietnam on what was supposed to be a vacation. Instead, she was sold as a sex slave and spent the next two years in a brothel. She was freed when Somaly Mam, an anti-slavery activist and the face of the Somaly Mam Foundation, organized a raid on Vann's brothel. Today, Vann is an activist with the Somaly Mam Foundation, helping fellow survivors of slavery as well as those still working in brothels.

For Vann's work, she was honored with the Frederick Douglass Award. The Frederick Douglass Award “honors the tremendous resilience of the human spirit and emphasizes that many of the survivors of modern-day slavery go on to help others to freedom.”

More of Vann's story is revealed in this video:

2009 Frederick Douglass Award Winner – Sina Vann from Free the Slaves on Vimeo.

Recently, the United Nations granted a one-year extension on its mandate addressing the humans rights situation in Cambodia. According to The Mirror, the U.N. Special Rapporteur, reporting to the Human Rights Council:

expressed concerns about the human rights situation in Cambodia. According to his report, the rule of law in Cambodia is weak…Also, he mentioned the case of a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian – from the biggest opposition party in Cambodia – Ms. Mu Sochua, who had been sentenced by a court, controlled by the government of the Cambodian People’s Party, to lose her case unjustly, because she had dared to protest against the powerful in Cambodia.

Others urged the Special Rapporteur not to forget about the women and children who remain victims of sexual slavery in Cambodia, noting that it must remain a human rights priority even as other human rights violations, such as freedom of expression, surface.

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