Kristof said in the blog post titled “When Sources May Have Lied” that he wishes he “had never written about her” but hopes as much attention is paid to sex trafficking in Southeast Asia as on Mam’s allegedly fabricated story.
Newsweek investigated claims that Mam’s story about her life in the sex trade were fabrications and that she was actually a normal girl who grew up in a small village in Cambodia and graduated high school. Once she claimed she was sold into the sex trade at age 9. In her book she says she was 16. Both appear to be false and evidence suggests Mam ordered her "girls" to lie about their stories as well to gain media attention and donations.
Doubts about Mam’s trustworthiness first arose around 2012 when Cambodia Daily published an account that all but debunked the testimony of Long Pros, a girl with Mam’s foundation who said her eye was gouged out by a pimp while she was a prostitute. The story gained international attention.
Mam denies all allegations but did resign from her post at her foundation. Her resignation was announced by Executive Director Gina Reiss-Wilchins, citing the third-party investigation Mam's foundation iniated itself.
Effective immediately, Somaly Mam has resigned from the Somaly Mam Foundation. Read more: http://t.co/z6bwWJArpK
â€” Somaly Mam (@SomalyMam) May 28, 2014
The Somaly Mam scandal has spurred debate about the award-winning activists’ alleged fabrications. While condemnation of Mam’s conduct is nearly universal, there’s no question that her work and foundation have changed the lives of countless Southeast Asian sex workers.
Neither CNN, TIME, the Guardian, the Daily Beast or any other of the organizations that have bestowed honors on her have revoked their awards, but many journalists have demanded that Kristof “lose his byline” and answer for his journalistic mistakes earlier this week (he didn’t actually apologize in either of his blog posts). Clearly, this is only the beginning of Mam’s trial in the court of public opinion.