The Road of lost Innocence by Somaly Mam


The book came to me on 15th. I was sitting there, talking with ‘the guy’, when it arrived. And he as usual asked me, how many books did I order for this month. And I went into defensive mode,instantly. What else can you expect from me, right?!

The book-cover was beautiful. On the cover page Somaly sat there, thinking, looking towards her future maybe. As the fortune-teller told her –
‘ the black one – she will have the three flags’ – power, honour and money. ‘She will travel in plane andshe will be a leader in the family’. She will help you.’
This is the first memoir I have read. I don’t know, why I chose it. Maybe I wanted an author from another part of the world for my Orbis Terrarum CHallenge! But I never thought, it will this different. I sometimes, never read reviews about certain books. And this was one of them. I knew, what it was about. But never knew, how intense it could be.

As you all might already know, Somaly is from Cambodia, and now a Cambodian heroine. She was abandoned at birth by her parents and was looked after by her Grandmother until she disappeared.She was taken into the care of a man she called Grandfather, but was treated no better than a upaid servant. Raped at 12 and forced to marry at 15, Somaly was then sold to a brothel. After years of abuse she managed to escape.

She was the ‘lucky’ one. Somaly in 1997, co-founded AFESIP to combat trafficking in women and children for sexual slavery…rape.

It’s still happening constantly, today, tonight. My story doesn’t matter, except that it stands for the hundreds’ of girls stories too, and there stories is why I don’t sleep at night. They haunt me.

Somaly talks about herself, what she went through in a tone, that doesn’t demand sympathy. She just never uses emotions/feelings to state her experiences, and in itself touches you. You can’t believe this is actually happening to someone out there! Kids aged 5-6 yrs aold are sold off by there own kin. And these people live with the money, the girls earn through prostitution. In men, it is highly believed that sex with a virgin, will cure them off many diseases, including AIDS. But these little girls, get them faster. The little girls vagina are sewn back and they are sold again. If you are a virgin, you should cry and bleed. and these little girls cried and bled. They were beaten, punished and what not. It is too cruel to even say!

Leading a normal life is not possible for them. Even Somaly, has nightmares that don’t let her sleep.
But I couldn’t take the image of the sex-related violence out of my mind. There was nothing I could do to annihilate my past. Coming back to life, to some kind of innocence, felt impossible. I didn’t know where my youth was, where to dig to look, if not for happiness, at least for some kind of peace.

It is the evil done to me, that propels me on. Is there any other way to exercise it?

I wish you guys would actually buy this book and read! I want you to read it and feel, as I did! I feel suddenly so overwhelmed. I can’t imagine there plights. Today AFESIP is trying hard to save thousands of girls in Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia [ south-east Asia] where women – trafficking is the highest and is worth 500 million dollars, roughly the amount of money that the government allocates for Cambodia.

If buying this book, payes even for one girl’s one day food; I am glad I did something, even if it is a mere nothing.
What else can we do?!
On Oct 15th on Bethany’s blog [B&B Ex Libris], there was this post that touched a chord. And something to the same effect, was also there in Somaly’s book,

The French seemed to eat vast quantities of everything, but especially meat. I could hardly believe, how much they put inside themselves everyday.
I was overcome by it all; the succession of dishes, the abundance and the fact that people left food on their plates[…] We could fees whole families in Cambodia just with these left-overs.
It is not just French who eat and waste,we do too! And it is not just food, it is things. How much do we buy and waste?!
I don’t understand how to pass this message over to you all, but all I wish, is that everyone reads this book once! and feel the sheer sense of helplessness for this hideous injustice happening all over!

And that’s all I got to say. Please help in the most-little way you can! At least by being aware of this.

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  1. Serena said…
    I love the cover of this book. Its beautiful. Sounds like a good read as well. I’ve read a few memoirs.

    17 October 2008 05:32

    Corinne said…
    The beginning of this post made me laugh – my husband has stopped harassing me about how many books I buy, but he still makes comments about how many “book calories” I consume in a day 🙂

    17 October 2008 07:34

    Lotus Reads said…
    Veens, when I read posts like this I feel so energized and want to blog even more! I am so glad you found my review helpful and that you were moved by Somaly’s story. She is a really a strong woman, isn’t she? I’ve been toying with the idea of opening a chapter for the Somaly Foundation here in Canada, but I don’t know if I can fully commit to it with a full time job and also with my work with refugees. We’ll see.

    18 October 2008 22:48

    Ghost Particle said…
    thank you for this poignant post. being from Malaysia, i read a lot of how human trafficking is still flourishing despite the heightened awareness and maturity of the society. we must tackle the roots to be able to solve the problem. i will def get the book.

    thx to veens for the recommendations of the post.

I love to hear your thoughts!