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
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
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
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
Ima Mutal was 17 when she left her home in Indonesia to work as a nanny in Los Angeles. As soon as she entered the U.S. her passport was confiscated by her new "employer" and her servitude began. Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to be enduring forced labor in the United States. This is just one story.FULL STORY
Sophie Hayes' love story started out like so many Hollywood rom-coms. He was a man she knew and trusted, and who knew everything about her, what made her laugh and cry and what her favorite song was. He was there for her when she had bad days, a quick phone call away in times of trouble. She was just a normal girl and he a normal guy.
But this love story turned into a horror story on a holiday with the man she had grown to love. Forced to work on the streets as a prostitute, emotionally isolated, miles from her British home, suffering mental and physical abuse, rape, and torture.FULL STORY
Anti-slavery campaigner Sophie Hayes has released a powerful campaign to draw attention to the dangers of women who get lured into relationships, only to lose their freedom. Women like her.
Editor's note: Richard Stearns is the author of “The Hole in Our Gospel” and president of the U.S. office of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Follow Stearns on Twitter @RichStearns. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard Stearns.
By Richard Stearns, special to CNN
This February, I visited Cambodia, where my heart was broken by the evils of the sex trade in that country. Too often there is an acceptance of prostitution that leads to a male culture that believes sex with virgins improves health has created an epidemic of young girls and boys trafficked into the cities. Roughly 30,000 young women and men in that country (some estimates are as high as 100,000) are trapped in slavery. When imprisoned in the brothels, these young women and men serve roughly 700 people every year.
I interviewed a young woman named Ruse (not her real name) who had spent three years in a Cambodian brothel before being rescued and sent to World Vision’s Trauma Recovery Center in Phnom Penh.
Ruse’s story was heartbreaking. Her family was extremely poor, and when she was just 13, her mother became very ill and needed medical attention. Her father had left, and she had two smaller siblings as well. The family desperately needed money. Ruse told me, “My virginity was the most valuable possession my family had.” FULL POST
By David Batstone, Special to CNN
Editor's note: David Batstone is the co-founder and president of Not For Sale, which fights human trafficking and slavery. The opinions in this guest post are solely those of David Batstone.
On February 2, faith leaders gathered in the U.S. capital to pray. What difference will it make? What is the role of prayer, worship, and faith in ending social problems that I care about, like extreme poverty and modern-day slavery? FULL POST
Editor's note: Actor and activist Robin Wright recently traveled to eastern Congo with the Enough Project, a Washington-based group focused on ending genocide and crimes against humanity. Her video trip diary appears as a special feature on a new UK edition of "Blood in the Mobile," available on DVD.
(CNN) - A 10-year-old boy, his face still innocent, abducted from his village and forced to kill alongside ruthless militia fighters. A 60-year-old grandmother too ashamed of the injuries caused by a brutal rape to leave her house for five months, even though her wounds worsened. A girl who reminded me of my own daughter, bridging the years between youth and womanhood, who had been dragged into a forest near her house by a group of men and raped, over and over again.
Images of these people, whose quiet but warm personalities barely hint at the atrocities they have survived, give a human face to the conflict in eastern Congo that has long moved me as an activist. With well over 5 million people dead through war and its accompanying hardships spanning more than a decade, it is difficult to imagine the daily impact of a conflict of this magnitude, much less to feel empowered to do anything about it.