Nicky Mih’s Freedom to Shine – saving girls from sex slavery


Standing up for girls sold as sex slaves was something Nicky Mih felt she had to do – now her organization, Free to Shine is talking at the Freedom Summits in Byron next weekend about their commitment to ending sex trafficking in rural Cambodia.

When Nicky Mih established her human rights organisation Free To Shine, in 2010, it was with a view to ending the sex trafficking of young girls in rural Cambodia.  She followed a simple core idea: “‘It starts with you’,” says Mih, CEO of Free To Shine, “that’s the simple truth.”

Mih, the CEO of Free To Shine, spent a month in Cambodia with more than 200 survivors of sex slavery, and was determined to try to help: “I kept reading these harrowing stories about girls in the sex trade and it got to the point that I had to act, I had to do something to help,” she says.  The survivors explained to her that when girls are rescued from brothels, the traffickers simply go out into the villages and take a new young girl. The survivors desperately wanted these girls to be protected, and they believed that if these young girls were in school they would not be trafficked.

Free to Shine's Nicky Mih believes education is the key to a better life.

Free to Shine’s Nicky Mih believes education is the key to a better life.

What Mih discovered was that there were  organisations collaborating with the police on rescue operations; there were aftercare centres; there were legal teams working in the justice system to bring about prosecutions, but there was very little focusing on helping girls in rural villages, and nobody  out in rural villages specifically identifying young girls at risk before the traffickers got to them.

Enter Free to Shine, Mih’s new organization, which works on the principle that it is women who can create real change in the community. By putting these girls back in school, Mih believes, the girls have the opportunity to get a better job to support their families and their community. Working to make sure girls are less vulnerable to sex trafficker’s means that the girls on their program never have to suffer the horrific experiences of trafficked girls.

Mih will be speaking about Free to Shine at the upcoming at Freedom Summits, hosted in Byron Bay on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of October. The Freedom Summits donate a portion of their proceeds to Free To Shine, helping them to equip rural girls with the skills and education to create a future for themselves and to break the cycle of sex trafficking.

“The Freedom Summits offer us a great opportunity to tell people about what we do,” says Mih. “The more people can see how our education program works, the more support our girls can get.”

“We believe children should be in schools, not brothels. So we identify girls at high risk of being targeted by traffickers, get them a uniform and a bike, fill a bag with books and pens, and visit them regularly to keep them in school and keep them safe. “

– Claire Schnackenberg


To find out more or get involved, check out  or on Facebook at
The 2015 Freedom Summit will be held at the Cavanbah centre – and this year Lyn White, from Animals Australia will be a key speaker. To buy tickets or to learn more about the Freedom Summits check out freedomsummits



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