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Programs & Events 2010

Secretary Clinton in Siem Reap

Siem Reap | October 31, 2010

On Sunday October 31, Secretary Clinton visited the Siem Reap Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Training Center run by Agir Pour Les Femmes En Situation Precaire (AFESIP), which means “acting for women in distressing circumstances.”  The AFESIP organization, founded in 1996 by sex trafficking survivor Somaly Mam, operates three shelters in Cambodia that provide rehabilitation, vocational training, and societal reintegration for trafficking victims.  In 2009, the U.S. State Department awarded AFESIP a two-year, $336,000 grant to fund shelter operating costs through the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Secretary Clinton toured the facility with AFESIP staff and some of the young survivors who have been helped by AFESIP in rebuilding their lives after struggling through the pain of forced labor or forced prostitution.  Vann Sina, the 25-year-old leader of the Somaly Mam Foundation’s Voices For Change team, recounted her personal experience of being abducted at 13 and forced to have sex with 20 to 30 men a day for more than two years before being rescued from a brothel.  "To be a victim is very hard," she said, recalling how she didn't understand what she was meant to do when she was first told to "sleep" with a customer. "I cannot forget. Sometimes I dream and I get very scared."

The visit was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming.  The knowledge of what was done to these women and girls before they arrived at AFESIP is disturbing; the strength and courage they display in overcoming such odds is a testament to the power of the human spirit.  As the Secretary told the women and girls assembled, “I am so proud of you; you motivate me.”