Ricky Martin visits Cambodian center
Ricky Martin met with victims of sexual exploitation Saturday during a visit to Cambodia to promote the fight against human trafficking. ( AP )
Martin held infants and listened to a 14-year-old rape victim's song during his visit to a shelter in the northwestern city of Siem Reap, home of the famed Angkor temples.
"She sings like an angel," Martin said after the girl finished a song she composed about the plight of trafficking victims.
The girl was among 65 victims sheltered at the rescue center of Afesip, a French non-governmental group working to combat human trafficking in Cambodia.
The pop star also held the 3-month-old daughter of a 22-year-old woman who was sold by her father to a brothel and is now HIV-positive. The woman broke down in tears as she urged Martin to keep fighting against human trafficking.
"I'm not going to stop," Martin said, pounding his fist on his knee as he sat on a tiled floor. "All of you are my heroes. You are a gift of my life."
Martin, who arrived in the country Wednesday, met with Interior Minister Sar Kheng and visited various projects run by non-governmental organizations fighting child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Martin learned of Cambodia's child trafficking problems in February during a three-day U.N. conference in Vienna. He joined Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak and other dignitaries in calling for action.
In its annual human rights report released recently, the U.S. State Department called Cambodia "a source, destination and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor."
Still, Martin praised Cambodia as an example of some "solid and concrete" efforts against human trafficking.
"The fact that you have 200 non-governmental groups working in the country working on human trafficking is unheard of," he said.
Martin said he plans to take what he learned in Cambodia and use it to "motivate people, organizations, governments in Latin America" in their efforts to combat the same problems. The Ricky Martin Foundation does most of its work in Latin America.
Martin was due to leave Cambodia on Sunday.