Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Four: Holding Feet to the Fire
Svay Pak, an impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, is the epicenter of Cambodia's child sex trade.
December 12th, 2013
02:22 PM ET

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Four: Holding Feet to the Fire

By Mira Sorvino, Special to CNN

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) – Today we scored a last-minute interview with Chou Ben Eng, the head of Cambodia’s Human Trafficking Task force: the Secretary of State of the Ministry of the Interior, and a woman to boot.

As I sat down I was impressed with her elegance (she wore a traditional floor-length silk-satin dress) and her forthrightness; she shook a firm hand and spoke excellent English. This interview would not need an interpreter.

I think it also allowed me to be a little more aggressive.  I was tired of getting the pat answers, of the party lines. I had seen the reality of the victims’ pain and was not going to be so polite this time.  She began by presenting the achievements of her working group. We then brought up the issue of the undercover authority for police in human trafficking cases. I had begun to realize that anything that was going to cost a big infusion of money might not be a realistic goal for us to press for in the here and now, but this bit of legislation, the explicit authorization for the use of undercover investigative methods and techniques, was something we could press for that might seriously change the equation in the pursuit of justice for this crime. FULL POST

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Five: The Future
December 12th, 2013
02:18 PM ET

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Five: The Future

By Mira Sorvino, Special to CNN

Siem Reap, Cambodia (CNN) –Today we drove two hours north in rural Cambodia to meet with a group of student activists. As we arrived at the school, we saw a group of bright green t-shirted teenagers at a picnic table under a tree. Our youth leader, Han Hunlida (nickname: Lyly), was instructing her peers on their plan of action for the day: split into groups of four and go door-to-door in the community to share information about human trafficking and how not to become its victims.

This region, Banteay Meanchey, is a crossroads for Cambodians migrating for work into Thailand and Malaysia. They are all at great risk for being trafficked by wily recruiters, who prey on impoverished people desperate for work, without local savvy or support.

Lida, 16, is a tiny powerhouse. Inspired by a Somaly Mam Foundation visiting lecturer at her school two years ago, she is a Cambodian girl taking stewardship of her country and its future. I was stirred by her palpable compassion for the vulnerable and victimized.  She emanated a kind of unstoppable positivity; her compatriots looked up to her, sharing in a powerful movement towards change.  They were humble and excited at the same time and - very encouragingly - there were teenaged boys with them, not only girls. FULL POST

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Six: Hope and Healing
December 12th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Six: Hope and Healing

By Mira Sorvino, Special to CNN

Siem Reap, Cambodia (CNN) –This morning we got up bright and early to go to the temples of Angkor Wat. It was a boiling hot day, and by 7 a.m. it was already beginning to swelter.  We entered the long walkway across water and grass to the main temple complex.

This is the remnant of a very powerful, accomplished kingdom, and a source of great pride for the Cambodian people. The grey stone structures are slightly discolored from erosion, but their grandeur, imposing stature, and artistic accomplishment remain intact.

I chuckle to think that in the fictional feature film I made about child sex trafficking in Cambodia, “Trade of Innocents,” (all filmed in Thailand) we shot our climactic action scene in a replica set of Angkor Wat; the temple structures were made of wood and Styrofoam. Yet I have to hand it to our director Christopher Bessette and our art department; it really did look like the real thing, if only a small section of it. FULL POST

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Final Thoughts
December 12th, 2013
02:16 PM ET

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Final Thoughts

By Mira Sorvino, Special to CNN

(CNN) My time in Cambodia is over.  On the plane and beyond, it is time for me to reflect.

One journalist told me that Khmer people smile all the time, no matter how unhappy they are. It made me think of some of the smiles I saw, like that of the sweet-faced general.  Behind it does he really possess the will to step up the police response to this situation, and press for the authorization for undercover authority?  I hope so.

At least one of our young heroines has seen her day in court and succeeded!  Even though the perpetrators were charged on lesser crimes than trafficking and were only given three years as opposed to a stiffer sentence commensurate with the most serious offenses, it is a victory.  Toha's bravery has paid off – and if they receive the payments due them from their traffickers they will feel even more vindicated. Hopefully this case a harbinger of more justice to come, and will reverse the trend of dwindling human trafficking arrests and convictions. This should send a message out that Cambodia is willing to try to convict those who exploit young girls, followed by vigorous law enforcement and legal action that can truly end the impunity the criminals now enjoy.

The problem remains: how do you teach someone not to sell their child?  The interviews with the mothers of our three young survivors were eye-opening.  Don admits they may not be successful at reaching this generation, athough Toha’s mother openly acknowledged Don’s assistance stopping her from selling another child. “If it gets worse again, this time I know I can ask for help.” FULL POST

'We need more recruits'
December 12th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

'We need more recruits'

Don Brewster, a former pastor from California, is the founder and director of Agape International Missions, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the victims of child trafficking in Cambodia and smashing the networks that exploit them. He moved to Cambodia with his wife in 2009 after a harrowing trip to the neighborhood and worked with CNN on the documentary 'Every Day in Cambodia'.

He has written a post on Agape's site in which he explains why he agreed to be a part of the documentary. He says: "We need more recruits ... in order for the truth to win out it must be spoken out."

Read his blog post here
December 11th, 2013
03:43 PM ET

Mira Sorvino: The mothers were desperate

Oscar-winning actress and anti-slavery activist Mira Sorvino joined a CNN team to investigate the child sex trade in Cambodia. In this video she tells CNN's Andrew Stevens about the assignment - and the horrific memories which she says she will never forget.

Every Day in Cambodia airs for the first time on CNN International on Saturday 10 a.m. CET.

Inside Cambodia's hidden brothels
December 11th, 2013
01:53 PM ET

Inside Cambodia's hidden brothels

Karaoke bars are a common front for child prostitution. As part of the documentary "Every Day in Cambodia", Oscar-winning actress and activist Mira Sorvino writes about what it was like going behind the scenes of this illicit trade.

FULL STORY
Every Day in Cambodia: The women who sold their daughters to sex slavery
December 10th, 2013
05:10 PM ET

Every Day in Cambodia: The women who sold their daughters to sex slavery

A neighborhood in Cambodia is a global hotspot for the child sex trade. The people selling the children? Too often, their parents. CNN Freedom Project and Mira Sorvino, award-winning actress and human rights activist, investigate in a major new documentary, "Every Day in Cambodia", which airs for the first time on CNN International on Saturday at 10 a.m. CET.

Here is the story of three mothers, their children and the people trying to stop modern day slavery.

FULL STORY
'Operation Hope' and Sara Sidner win TV award
December 9th, 2013
04:58 PM ET

'Operation Hope' and Sara Sidner win TV award

Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner has won a prestigious television award for her CNN Freedom Project documentary, "Operation Hope".

The documentary, aired earlier this year, was a powerful update to Sidner's original reporting in 2011 about a seven-year-old Bangladeshi boy who was viciously attacked, castrated and left for dead because he refused to be forced into begging.

"Operation Hope" was voted Best Social Awareness Program at the Asian Television Awards in Singapore.

Watch the documentary in three parts here
Topics: In The News • Operation Hope
December 9th, 2013
03:35 PM ET

Police: 3 freed, 2 arrested in UK slavery bust

British police have freed three men and arrested two people as part of a human trafficking bust. The rescues came in a series of raids, part of an investigation into forced labor and human trafficking called "Operation Wanderer".

The three men who were freed included one in his 30s, one in his 40s and one in his 50s.

FULL STORY
Topics: In The News
December 4th, 2013
02:43 AM ET

How traffickers use technology

Modern day slavery is a high-tech crime. Criminals use many methods to lure and traffic their victims, including websites and games. Investigators and police in San Francisco give an insight.

Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • Technology
November 22nd, 2013
02:47 PM ET

After 30 years held as a slave, what is the recovery process?

Three "extremely traumatized" women are being cared for by a charity after managing to leave a London house where they had allegedly been held captive for more than 30 years. Experts say compassion, time and allowing freedom of choice are essential to the rehabilitation process.

Aneeta Prem, founder of the Freedom Charity, which was contacted by one of the victims, tells CNN how they worked with police and what happens next for the victims. 

FULL STORY
Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • Solutions • Voices
« older posts
newer posts »