Newsweek Finally Realizes Sex Trafficking Activist Somaly Mam is Serial Fabricator

May 21, 2014
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Move over Shelley Lubben

Somaly Mam runs an organization that operates women’s shelters in Southeast Asia. A prominent figure in the anti-sex-trafficking movement, she’s spoken at the White House, been honored as one of Time‘s most influential people on Earth, and appeared on The Tyra Banks Show.

Newsweek story published Wednesday by writer Simon Marks, though, accuses Mam of promoting herself through extensive fabrication; the magazine says the activist has made false claims about her own alleged past as a victim of abuse and encouraged others affiliated with her organization to do so as well.

Somaly Mam

Somaly Mam

Among its specific allegations, Newsweek says that two women who have appeared publicly on the group’s behalf to speak about their past as child sex slaves—Long Pross and Meas Ratha—were never sex workers at all, but were brought into Mam’s care by their parents. Perhaps more significantly, Marks says that residents of Mam’s home village remember her moving there with her parents and attending school from 1981 through 1987, when she would have been about 16 or 17 years old.

Mam has, in her autobiography and public statements, claimed to have been kept as a slave from 1979 onward by an older man who sold her into a violent arranged marriage at age 14, after which she became a sex slave in a brothel.

The Somaly Mam Foundation says it has launched a third-party investigation into the allegations.


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Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene
7 years ago

Welcome to the real world, NYT. Mam has already been called out on her fraudulent activities by many other media. She’s a particularly flagrant but not atypical example of the scam artists who have attached themselves to the great anti-sex-trafficking campaign. These people love to accuse everyone in the sex industry of profiting from human misery. Even if that were true, which it isn’t, would it not be equally true of the parade of liars, mountebanks, fanatics and political hacks who have turned this issue into a money-earner for themselves? If trafficking in lies were a crime, these people would… Read more »


[…] last week, another fraud, Somaly Mam, was forced to resign her own foundation over revelations that she too is a serial fabricator. Lastly, I cast a wary eye on Bamboo Brides, the organization that hosted “An Evening with […]


[…] Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF), the anti-sex-trafficking organization whose founder’s back-story as a sex slave has been the center of controversy after it was exposed …, announced Saturday it had shuttered its entire operation in September and urged its followers to […] - Buy & Sell Adult Traffic
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