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SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AP) — Pledging to do more to help end the scourge of sexual slavery, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a rescue and rehabilitation center for child prostitutes in northern Cambodia on Sunday.
Before touring the famed 12th century Angkor Wat temple complex, Clinton met with a group of about 50 victims of human trafficking at the U.S.-funded facility in Siem Reap and promised them continued American support.
“I am so proud of you,” she told the girls and young women, most of whom are between 17 and 23. They receive an education and vocational training that includes weaving and sewing lessons.
“You motivate me,” she said.
Clinton listened as one young woman, Vann Sina, recounted her story of being abducted at 13 and forced to have sex with 20 to 30 men a day for more than two years before being rescued from a brothel.
“To be a victim is very hard,” she said, recalling how she did not understand what she was meant to do when she was told to “sleep” with a customer. “I cannot forget. Sometimes I dream and I get very scared.”
The Siem Reap center received a $336,0000 grant from the State Department last year to fund its operating costs and Clinton said she would make sure money continued to flow.
“I wanted to come here today to see you for myself,” Clinton said.
Clinton was the first sitting secretary of state to visit Angkor. She was thronged by tourists as she strolled the grounds of the massive site with her aides, accompanied by a bevy of security agents and photographers.
On a tour of northern Cambodia, Clinton is about as far away as one can get from the intense political battle going on back home. Her husband and fellow Democrats are campaigning frantically ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
A self-proclaimed ex-politician, Clinton is barred from partisan political activity while serving as America’s top diplomat.
The former first lady, New York senator and presidential hopeful is in the midst of a two-week, seven-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific. She won’t be back at work in Washington until a week after Election Day.