Name: Somaly Mam
Hails from: Cambodia
Occupation: Human rights activist
Why She’s a Babe: You wouldn’t guess, just by looking at her, especially when she’s holding her own while sandwiched between two Sports Illustrated swimsuit models (above), that Somaly Mam has lived a hellish life that most of us can’t even wrap our heads around. Growing up in war-ravaged Cambodia, Somaly was sold into sex slavery at age 12. Later she wound up in a Phnom Penh brothel, where she was repeatedly beaten and raped for ten years. Three years after fleeing Cambodia with the help of an aid worker, she started the nonprofit AFESIP (Agir pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire, or Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances) that has helped over 4,000 women escape brothels and reintegrate into society. She’s been named a CNN Hero, Glamour Woman of the Year, and in 2009, she made the TIME 100 list. You can see a snapshot of her chatting with Michelle Obama at the gala dinner here; it’s a striking photo of two strong, beautiful women locked in an intimate conversation, not to mention a toned-arm-o-rama. In other words, doing good never looked this good.
Read Marianne Pearl’s 2006 profile of Somaly Mam in Glamour here.
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