Sunday, October 20, 2013
Somaly Mam, one of the 100 most 'influential' women in the world is a liar!
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I am in Cambodia trying yet again to get Chanti's daughters returned to her care.
Somaly Mam and Pastor Leigh Ramsay
Somaly Mam and Pastor Leigh Ramsay share at least one thing in common. They are both liars. Somaly lied about the raid on her centre in which girls were killed and she sat beside a 14 year old girl who recited for the camera the lies that Somaly had taught her and which she insisted Meas Ratha tell in the interests of the the cause for which Somaly was fighting.
Leigh Ramsay’s lies, like Somaly’s, are numerous (see this blog for evidence of this) – the most pernicious being that Rosa and Chita are victims of human trafficking.
Just as Somaly has been able to raise huge amounts of money on the basis of her lies, so too has Leigh Ramsay (and Citipopinte church in general) on the basis that the She Rescue Home’s primary function is to rescue girls such as Rosa and Chita from the sex trade.
Somaly and Leigh Ramsay have another thing in common – they both believe that they are doing the right thing (good intentions) and so can justify their lies as being in the service of a greater cause. The greater cause is, of course, rescuing girls from the sex trade or from any other form of sexual abuse. This is a noble cause but is it necessary, is it right, is it ethical to lie in pursuit of a noble cause?
One respondent to my leaflet drop at Citipointe church last week, D****, believes that the ends do justify the means; that it does not matter if the truth is stretched a little if this results in money being donated to the church that can be used to do ‘good work’.
If you engage in the sort of lies and fraud that Somaly Mam and Leigh Ramsay have been engaged in (and they are not alone amongst NGOs who lie with the very best of intentions) there can be and will be serious collateral damage. You only have to read about Meas Ratha, whom Somaly induced to lie, to know that she has suffered for 16 years as a result of the lies Somaly told her to tell.
And I can assure you, D****, that whilst the lies Leigh Ramsay has perpetrated about Rosa and Chita may have contributed to the injection of huge amounts of funds into the church’s coffers, the loss of their daughters has caused and continues to cause their parents, Chanti and Chhork, enormous pain on a daily basis.
To add insult to injury, not one cent of the money that Citipointe has raised by exploiting Rosa and Chita in this way (and, of course, the other girls the church essentially ‘sells’ to sponsors and donors online), has gone towards assisting Chanti and her family becoming self-sufficient. It has been in your church’s interests from a money raising point of view, D****, to keep Chanti and Chhork as poor as possible over the years – to provide them with no assistance at all. Even now that Chanti and Chhork are not poor by Cambodian standards it is in Citipointe’s financial interests to retain custody of Rosa and Chita. And unfortunately there is no government body in Cambodia that will hold Citipointe accountable for its actions.
D****, and others who are angry with me for ‘defaming’ Citipointe, (and who, like Pastor Mulheran, believe that I should be arrested and put in jail!) you have to ask yourself if lying in pursuit of a just cause is or can be justified. If Somaly Mam and Leigh Ramsay can lie in order to raise money for their NGOs surely the same principle must apply to all NGOs. If NGO A is making lots of money by telling lies and NGO B is struggling to survive by telling the truth, should NGO B boost its earning by telling even bigger and better lies than NGO A?
In the interests of raising money will we see (or are we already seeing) a race to the bottom with NGOs trying to outdo each other with the magnitude of the lies they tell in order to get as large as possible a slice of the financial pie available to NGOs in the business of ‘rescuing’ girls from the sex trade and the ‘rescue’ of ‘orphans’ who have more than one parent alive?
For me, an NGO system based on this premise is a corrupt system. It is up to the NGO community to do all it can to put an end to the scams that proliferate within the ‘rescue industry’ in Cambodia. If this does not occur I suspect that there will, in the not too distant future, be a huge scandal that will frighten off donors and sponsors not just from unscrupulous NGOs such as Somaly Mam’s and Citipointe’s but from those NGOs that do genuinely good work on shoe string budgets.
As you ponder these ethical questions, D****, bear in mind the suffering endured by Meas Ratha this past 16 years as a result of Somaly Mam’s lies. And bear in mind the suffering endured by Chanti and Chhork this past five years as a result of Leigh Ramsay’s lies.
And as for my ‘defaming’ Citipointe, ask yourself this question: Why has your church not commenced legal proceedings against me for defamation? It has threatened to do so twice but the threats were empty for the simple reason that your church does not want anyone to look too closely at what it does in Cambodia.
Citipointe does not want to be placed in the position of having to prove that the church had the legal right, in 2008, to remove Chanti and Chhork’s daughters and hold Rosa and Chita against the wishes of their parents. This is called kidnapping, deprivation of liberty. In Cambodia it is called ‘human trafficking.’ It is against the law but there is no law in Cambodia, in reality, other than the law you can afford to buy.
M****, thank you for your timely response to my blog entry today.
It is indeed interesting to note that Citipointe church is in the process of raising money to build and repair houses for the impoverished families of girls in the church’s care. The first and most obvious question you should ask Leigh Ramsay, M**** is this:
“Why, over the past five years, has Citipointe not offered to build Chanti and Chhork a house or provided even $1 in financial assistance to the family?”
The more interesting question for me, just now (and I am not in a position to respond in detail) is the total absence of any reference to the Ministry of Social Affairs in the plans Citipointe has for the poor girls in the church’s care. Not one. The reason for this is simple – MOSAVY leaves Citipointe to its own devices. Your church is able to do what it likes and get MOSAVY to place a rubber stamp on its activities. Citipointe can then turn around and say, “We are only acting in accordance with instructions given to us by the Ministry of Social Affairs. We have no power at all in deciding when it is appropriate for a girl to be re-integrated with her family.”
Yet another Citipointe lie!
My email address for others trying to contact me is
Many thanks to those within Citipointe (and ex church members) for your information. Yes, I bought Chanti and Chhork their house and land. And their tuk tuk. This fully exhausted my financial resources. When I had saved enough to buy the family a toilet ($800) and was about to have it installed, the family tuk tuk was essentially stolen by a money lender. I am in the process of sorting this particular financial problem out but am not in a position, just now, to buy Chanti and her family a toilet.
For those of you who believe that Citipointe is engage din an active process of helping families, ask yourself (or preferably Leigh Ramsay):
“Why doesn’t Citipointe pay for the installation of a toilet in Chanti’s home?” The same question can, of course, be applied to EVERYTHING over the past five years. Citipointe has made no contribution at all to the welfare of Chanti’s family. Not one cent. Not even when, earlier this year, Chanti has pneumonia and needed to be hospitalized to protect her baby, in the 8th month of pregnancy, from suffering the ill effects of Chanti’s fever.
Citipointe talks up a storm but it is actions that count, not words. Citipointe has revealed in its total lack of assistance to Chanti’s family, that it does not care for the family at all but only for the two members of it (Rosa and Chita) that your church has made its own and which it is trying (with limited success) to alienate from the family and turn into Christians of the Citipointe mold.
P****, re your question about SISHA, this NGO has no power to do anything at all in situations such as the one confronting Chanti and Chhork. All SISHA can do is make recommendations to Cambodian government departments. But here is the big question.
“HOW IS IT THAT IT HAS TAKEN 16 YEARS FOR SOMALY MAM’S FRAUD TO BE MADE PUBLIC?”
I first heard of her lies in 2002 and from 2005 onwards they seemed to be common knowledge withgin the NGO community. Why did the NGO community say nothing Do nothing? Why didn’t any member of the community think to track down the girls in the documentary and ask a few questions? If I heard about Somaly Mam’s lies in 2002, surely LICADHO must have also. Didnpt it e3ver occur to LICADHO to do a little research? To ask a few questions? And what about the Ministry of Social Affairs? Any questions for Meas Ratha from MOSAVY? No, nothing. All NGOs in Cambodia committed to protecting the human rights of Cambodians, every NGO engaged in rescuing girls from the sex trade, have turned a blind eye to what amount to human rights abuses by Somaly Mam. By their silence they have become complicit.
So, what would happen to Rosa and Chita (and other girls in their situation) if they did not happen to have someone such as myself to advocate on their behalf? If it takes 16 years before the NGO’s fraud is exposed, Rosa and Chita will be in their early 20s. They will have been turfed out of Citipointe at age 18 with no relevant craft of other skills to earn a living and if they follow in the footpaths of so many girls I know who have been ‘rescued’ by well-meaning but incompetent NGOs they will both be unemployed and pregnant at age 19. In the meantime Citipointe will have a new batch of ‘victims of human trafficking’ to raise money with through donations and sponsorships.
Here’s two more questions that Citipointe churchgoers could ask of Leigh Ramsay
(1) How much money does the church make from donors and sponsors of the She Rescue Home in any one year?
(2) How much does it cost to run the home for one year?
You won’t get an answer to these questions. Ask yourselves why.
For those in Cambodia who wish to speak with me my number is:
YET ANOTHER UPDATE
Thank you for sending me the story about the 14 year old girl whose mother was sent to prison for drug trafficking, who has never met her dad and who was prostituted by her grandmother to foreigners in hotel rooms. It is a horrifying story, but is it true. It may be. It may not. The stories that Leigh Ramsay has told (and Citipointe in general) about Rosa and Chita being victims of human trafficking, are not true so my inclination is to take this story with a grain of salt. I am not saying that it is not true but given Pastor Ramsay’s track record in playing fast and loose with the truth, I would take it with a grain of salt. The important point here is that there is no way the truth or otherwise of this story can be checked by anyone. No one in Cambodia is interested in checking it. Citipointe can say what it likes and I am sure that there will be enough readers of this particular newsletter who will reach for their wallets, take out their credit cards and make a donation – just as I am sure there have been plenty over the years who have made donations or become sponsors as a result of reading about Rosa and Chita being ‘victims of human trafficking’; just as Somaly Mam was able to raise a lot of money by presenting Meas Ratha to the world as a victim of human trafficking.
The only way that unscrupulous NGOs are ever going to be held to account is if there is an NGO Ombudsman who can and will look with an impartial eye at the activities undertaken by individual NGOs. Such an independent NGO could be funded by NGOs themselves and be given the right to talk with
Clients’, to investigate any complaints and to generally encourage (through the fear of being shamed) NGOs to be transparent and accountable. I can think of no reason why any reputable NGO would not be prepared to pay a small amount of money to become part of the umbrella group of NGOs that supports this NGO Ombudsman. Indeed, any NGO that was not prepared to join and thus be open to scrutiny would immediately raise in the minds of other NGOs the question: “What does this NGO have to hide?”
The amount of money that each NGO could (or would be obliged) to contribute to this NGO Ombudsman would be a proportion of the NGO’s overall operating budget such that NGOs operating on a very low budget are not disadvantaged.
If all NGOs were to support such an NGO to the tune of 1% of their annual operating budget I suspect that s/he would have sufficient money to run such an organization. Such an Ombudsman must, of course, be completely independent and be given the right to ask any question he or she liked and to be given honest answers. Yes, there are questions of confidentiality to be borne in mind. Indeed, there are many details to be borne in mind but the principle is, I think, a good one and should be pursued by all NGOs concerned that their reputations are not sullied by the unscrupulous few who believe that the ends justify the means; that lies are acceptable if these lies lead to the raising of money that can be used to ‘rescue’ girls from the sex trade.