By Michael Martinez
She was the world's crusader against the trafficking of girls for sex in Cambodia, and she told an extraordinary personal tale: she was a village girl sold by a grandfatherly man into sex slavery.
Triumphant as well as beautiful, Somaly Mam won attention from Oprah Winfrey, a New York Times columnist, a PBS documentary, Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2009, and even CNN, which named her a "Hero" in 2007.
The fame - and her memoir "The Road of Lost Innocence" - generated millions of dollars for her Somaly Mam Foundation, fighting sex traffickers.
But her personal story wasn't true, according to a Newsweek exposé this month.
By Katie Cappiello and Lauren Hersh
Editor’s note: Katie Cappiello is the co-founder and Artistic Director of The Arts Effect NYC and writer of the play “A Day In The Life.” Lauren Hersh is the Director of Anti Trafficking Policy & Advocacy at Sanctuary for Families. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers.
Mira stands on the stage. At only 14 years old, she explains the devastating impact of watching her cousin sold for sex by a local Boston boy, who lured her in with "love" and drugs and enslaved her for years.
Darci, 15 years old, follows. She takes us into her home (and her head) the night her father was arrested for purchasing sex from a 14-year-old girl on Backpage.com.
Odley, 17, speaks of the repeated rapes by her mother's boyfriend that drove her onto the streets and into the hands of a trafficker when she was just halfway through the 7th grade.
These stories are inspired by real girls and real events. They are being brought to life by impassioned teen actors/activists like Mira, Darci and Odley at community centers, schools, hospitals and theaters across New York and New Jersey.
Jon Lowenstein trains his eye on the parts of society many people try to avoid.
“I'm really interested in stories that are hidden or untold or in places that are off the beaten path and forgotten,” the photographer says. “But I try to do it in an elegant way. I try to find a poetic and intimate way of telling the stories.”
For the past 10 years, Lowenstein has documented gun violence in Chicago’s crime-riddled South Side and highlighted the experiences of undocumented immigrants living across the United States.
His work looks at the issues of power, poverty, alienation and violence, and it has recently taken him across the United States, Central America, Haiti and Uganda.
When it comes to photographing modern day slavery, Lowenstein says he tries to take an overwhelming problem and engage people on a personal, emotional level.
“My subjects are people who have been left behind by the global market or are being used by the global market," Lowenstein says.
"It's the intersection between the past and the present, but also how globalization is impacting the world."
According to the FBI, an estimated 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked in the nation's underground sex trade.
Now lawmakers in Washington have passed a broad package of bills aimed at trying to shut down America's multi-million dollar sex trafficking industry.
By Jason Evans
(CNN) - It was 2002 in the Philippines, and American business traveler John Drake was presented with a disgusting offer.
He says a pimp offered him a four-year-old girl for sex "for about 25 bucks".
Drake returned home to Jackson, Michigan, but couldn’t forget the heart-breaking and disturbing scenes of child exploitation.
So, aged 58, he retired from his job as senior vice president of human resources for CMS Energy and Consumers Energy, where he'd worked for 32 years, and began a new phase of his life.
The world is paying attention to the abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls because the numbers are so high, but the slavery of girls is prevalent in northern Nigeria, and is often not reported when the victims are taken in ones and twos, says Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International. The abuse stems from a lack of respect for women and girls, he tells CNN anchor Jim Clancy.
There are 700,000 people currently in slavery in Nigeria, according to Walk Free. They are often abducted from extremely poor rural areas. Some are trafficked for slave labor including prostitution, occasionally to criminals in Europe and the Middle East. Others are forced into marriage.
CNN anchor Jim Clancy looks at the wider issues around slavery in Nigeria and west Africa.
A new attack is reported in Nigeria, with eight more students abducted in a region where terrorist group Boko Haram says it will sell girls.
One year ago this month, Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau released a video announcing a new, reprehensible front in its bloody attempt at forced Islamism: his fighters will begin abducting girls and selling them. The terrorist group has just done that.
For months the incidents received little attention beyond Nigeria. Now the disgust is spreading worldwide.
CNN is joining the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, amplifying the voices of the victims, highlighting success stories and helping unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life. WHY WE'RE DOING THIS | MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT