ACTIVIST Somaly Mam has won the Roland Berger Dignity Award for her work against sex trafficking. The German award comes with a one-million-euro (US$1.27 million) prize.
President Horst Kohler is scheduled to present the award to Somaly Mam on November 24 in Berlin, according to a news release from the German embassy.
"Somaly Mam bears witness to the courage and the resolution with which people around the world fight to ensure that human dignity and human rights are respected," said the press release.
Somaly Mam, 38, was herself a victim of sexual slavery and has been fighting against sex trafficking since she helped found anti-trafficking NGO Afesip in 1996.
Somaly Mam is currently the director of Afesip, which runs an outreach program, a shelter, an investigations department and a vocational training program for former sex workers.
Somaly Mam could not be reached for comment Sunday. Her assistant Lin Sylor said that she was travelling in the US promoting her recent book, The Road of Lost Innocence, a critically acclaimed memoir about her rise from the brothels.
"We are excited to hear about the big award, and we are also happy that the international community recognises the importance and value of our work," Sylor said.
In contrast to her international acclaim, within the region's anti-sex-trafficking community Somaly Mam and her organisation are much more controversial, representing to some an approach that inappropriately conflates sex work and sex slavery.