Sunday, November 14, 2010
Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn
Westport News (Connecticut, USA)/Photos Phyllis Groner
Human-rights activist Mu Sochua, a Cambodian parliamentarian who leads the opposition party and advocates for justice and rehabilitation for victims of human trafficking, cheered yesterday’s release of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest in Burma. “We cannot stop being vigilant,” Mu Sochua told 200 people gathered at Westport’s Seabury Center on Saturday night.
Sponsored by the Connecticut Council of Vital Voices, an international non-profit organization that trains and empowers women in developing countries, Mu Sochua and director Guy Jacobson were in Westport to publicly screen “Redlight,” a documentary film that shares the stories of four children who were kidnapped, raped and sold into prostitution before they were 14 years old.
“Redlight” will also be shown this afternoon at the Ridgefield Playhouse at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Like Aung San Suu Kyi, Mu Sochua recently learned that a lawsuit that would have sent her to prison was dismissed. However, Mu Sochua continues to campaign for her causes as she travels throughout Cambodia’s small villages, talking to people and trying to help children who are vulnerable to human traffickers. “I call it `barefoot democracy,’ ” Mu Sochua smiled.
All proceeds from Saturday night’s event will be used to support Mu Sochua’s programs in Cambodia. Although she does not seek financial support, Mu Sochua expressed appreciation to the attendees for watching the film — disturbing, at times, for its realistic and heart-wrenching portrayal of children’s plight — and she said that it’s by making people aware of the existence of human trafficking that changes may occur.
Jacobson pointed out that child prostitution doesn’t only occur “over there.” Danelle Ragoonanan-Storph, director of Bridgeport-based Project Rescue and Assist New America, agreed that similar activities occur in Fairfield County.
Roberta Cooper, co-president of the Connecticut chapter of Vital Voices, of Westport, said she was impressed by Mu Sochua’s humanitarian efforts when they initially met four years ago at one of the organization’s global summits. “We’ve since become friends,” she noted. “The response that we’ve had tonight shows that this is an issue that people really care about.”
Contributions can be made to Vital Voices Global Partnership. They are tax-deductible. Checks may be sent to Roberta Cooper, c/o P.O. Box 3363, Westport, CT. For more information, contact Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org