UNA-NY Presents
A Special Panel on Human Trafficking

Somaly Mam: A Heroine from the Brothels

Featured Speaker: Somaly Mam
with Jennifer Dreher, Guy Jacobson, Celhia de Lavarene and Carol Smolenski

NOTE: Reservations are now closed, as this event is SOLD OUT.

Monday, March 8, 2010
The Levin Institute
116 East 55th Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues)
New York, NY

6:30-7:00 p.m. Registration and Light Refreshments
7:00 p.m. Program Presentation
followed by a book signing after the program

Proceeds from this event will be donated to The Somaly Mam Foundation

Human trafficking was described in a recent study by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) as the fastest growing organized crime in the world. It is estimated that four million women, young girls and boys are kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery every year, generating over $4 billion in illicit income for the brothel owners and the kidnappers.

Organized by the United Nations Association of New York, this panel discussion on human trafficking will consist of five speakers — Somaly Mam, joined by Jennifer Dreher, Guy Jacobson, Celhia de Lavarene and Carol Smolenski — each addressing different aspects of the human trafficking (HT) crisis, such as: the average age of the victims; the countries most heavily involved; the U.S. laws protecting victims from being prosecuted as prostitutes and the penalties imposed on pimps; and actions the federal and state governments, NGOs, individual citizens, and the travel industry in particular, can take to combat human trafficking.

The Panelists

Somaly Mam will talk about her personal experience as an HT survivor. She was born in a small Cambodian village and sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was just twelve years old. Imprisoned in a series of brothels for the next decade, she endured the brutality of human trafficking — serial rape, torture, hunger, and squalor — until she managed to escape with the help of a French humanitarian worker. She has written an inspiring memoir, The Road of Lost Innocence, praised by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who called her "a heroine from the brothels" and "one of the bravest and boldest" among those fighting this unspeakable evil. Working through The Somaly Mam Foundation, she has dedicated her life to helping other young girls escape from forced prostitution, having been so far key negotiator in freeing over 4,000 of these former sex slaves. Somaly Mam's book will be available for purchase after the panel.

Jennifer Dreher is the Senior Director of the Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP) at Safe Horizon, which is the leading victim assistance organization in the country.  She oversees the ATP's social and legal services, training, outreach and advocacy, serving both men and women, representing over 60 countries and all forms of human trafficking. With more than 10 years experience in international human rights, she has managed programs in Sierra Leone, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic with the International Rescue Committee, UNIFEM, and the Peace Corps. Jennifer is a steering committee member of the New York Anti-Trafficking Network and active member of the Freedom Network (USA). She holds an MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University. 

Guy Jacobson, a filmmaker and global activist, was honored with the U.S. State Department's prestigious Global Hero Award in 2008 for his tireless efforts in fighting child sex trafficking. A former New York attorney and investment banker, he now serves as president of Priority Films. He produced Holly, the highly acclaimed 2007 feature film which dramatically raised awareness of the scope and severity of child sexploitation as a global epidemic. In 2002, he founded the Red Light Children Campaign, an NGO aimed at ending all forms of sex crimes against children, focusing on legislation, enforcement, and the rule of law. Jacobson has produced several television programs, written and published 15 books and numerous articles, and two documentaries on child sexploitation. The first, Redlight, will premiere in N.Y. theatres in June 2010. UNA-NY will screen Holly at the Tribeca Grand Hotel on April 7, 2010. Mr. Jacobson is an active board member of The Somaly Mam Foundation.

Celhia de Lavarene is a journalist reporting from the United Nations for almost two decades for Jeune Afrique and Radio France Internationale. She has worked at UN missions in Cambodia, South Africa, Eastern Slavonia and East Timor. In 2001 the head of the UN mission in war-torn Bosnia appointed Celhia to create and run the UN's first-ever operation to combat human trafficking, called the Special Trafficking Operations Program (STOP). For over two years, Celhia led a contingent of police officers in raids on 240 brothels and rescued 265 victims. In 2004 and 2005 she led a similar operation in post-war Liberia. Her book describing her experiences, Un Visa Pour L'enfer (A Visa to Hell) has been published in France and Brazil and an English-language edition is planned. She founded the NGO, Stop Trafficking of People (STOP) — a charity recognized by the US, French and UK governments — the first global organization that uses experts to rescue and rehabilitate HT victims. Ms. de Lavarene has addressed numerous conferences on sex trafficking throughout Europe and she has been interviewed on this subject on CNN, the BBC and Sky News.

Carol Smolenski is the executive director and one of the founders of ECPAT-USA, an acronym for End Child Prostitution and Trafficking. She has worked in the field of children's rights since 1991 and was previously the UN representative for the Christian Children's Fund and Defense for Children International. She has worked at ECPAT-USA since 1996. ECPAT International operates in 75 countries as a network of organizations and individuals working to protect every child's right to grow up free from sexual exploitation. At the UNA-NY panel discussion, Ms. Smolenski will focus on the rapid escalation of sex trafficking in the United States.

Moderator: Sherrie Murphy, VP Board of Directors, UNA-NY

Members of the press, please contact:

Sherrie Murphy


UNA MEMBERS attend for FREE (reservation required)
Questions? Please call (212) 907-1353 or e-mail: info@unanyc.org

NON-MEMBERS : $10 at the door
Join for a $25 introductory membership and attend for free.