Lithiya, now 15, is one of my favorites in “Somaly’s army,” perhaps because she wants to be a journalist and has taught herself astoundingly good English.
Trafficked at age nine from Vietnam, Lithiya was locked inside a brothel for years before she climbed over a wall and escaped. Now a ninth-grader, she is ranked No. 1 in her class.
Srey Pov, Lithiya and Somaly encountered a form of oppression that echoes 19th-century slavery, but the scale is larger today.
By my calculations, at least 10 times as many girls are now trafficked into brothels annually as African slaves were transported to the New World in the peak years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
So for those of you doubtful that “modern slavery” really is an issue for the new international agenda, think of Srey Pov — and multiply her by millions. If what such girls experience isn’t slavery, that word has no meaning. It’s time for a 21st-century abolitionist movement in the US and around the world.