Somaly Mam is known for her work as a activist against a sex trafficking industry that affects millions of young women around the world. Her organization, The Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF), has cultivated awareness and helped thousands of young women affected by sex trafficking. Her memoir “The Road of Lost Innocence” tells her story of being sold into sex slavery as a child.


However, late last month, Mam resigned from the foundation she helped to start amidst allegations that parts of her story were fraudulent. Alongside other controversies, the allegations against Mam stated that parts of her story were fabricated in order to generate financial support for her foundation.


Although the claims and actions made by Mam may have been dishonest, her work has helped thousands of young women escape the horrible realities of child prostitution. However, does a person’s good works justify or excuse them for their wrongful actions? The fabrications in Mam’s story may serve to discredit her as a trustworthy source, but they do not appear to have directly hurt any one besides Mam herself.


The Somaly Mam situation is reminiscent of the Livestrong controversy, were seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, who admitted to using steroids. Both Armstrong and Mam were not fully honest with the public, but in the process of their dishonesty they helped save lives and spread awareness for worthwhile causes.


Does the fact that both Mam and Armstrong helped others forgive them for their wrong doing? Can we still respect the strides they made for good causes? It was right for Armstrong to come clean and Mam to resign, but it is also important we do not forget the good work the organizations they helped to create are still doing.


What are your thoughts on the Somaly Mam Foundation scandal? Can she be forgiven for her actions? Let me know what you think in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich