November 26th, 2010
04:42 PM ET

Woman fighting sex slavery named CNN Hero of the Year

Editor's note: Watch "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" this weekend on the global networks of CNN. Nominations for 2011 CNN Heroes are now open at CNNHeroes.com.

Los Angeles, California (CNN) - A woman whose group has rescued more than 12,000 women and girls from sex slavery has been named the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year.

Anuradha Koirala was chosen by the public in an online poll that ran for eight weeks on CNN.com. CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed the result at the conclusion of the fourth annual "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."

"Human trafficking is a crime, a heinous crime, a shame to humanity," Koirala said earlier in the evening after being introduced as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010. "I ask everyone to join me to create a society free of trafficking. We need to do this for all our daughters."

Koirala was introduced by actress Demi Moore, who along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, created DNA, The Demi and Ashton Foundation, which aims to eliminate child sex slavery worldwide.

"Every day this woman confronts the worst of what humanity has to offer," Moore said of Koirala. "She says, 'Stop. Stop selling our girls.' By raiding brothels and patrolling the India-Nepal border, she saves girls from being sold into the sex trade, where they are being repeatedly raped for profit, tortured and enslaved.

"Since 1993, she has helped rescue more than 12,000 women and girls. Through her organization Maiti Nepal, she has provided more than a shelter for these girls and young women, she has created a home. It is a place for them to heal, go to school, learn a skill, and for some who are infected with HIV/AIDS, it is the place where they can spend their days surrounded by love."

Koirala will receive $100,000 to continue her work with Maiti Nepal, in addition to the $25,000 awarded to each of the top 10 Heroes honored.

"This is another responsibility to me to work with all your support," Koirala told the audience after being named Hero of the Year. "We have to end this heinous crime. Please join hands with me to end this crime. ... Please try to respect the youth. They are the ones who are going to build the next generation. Thank you so much."

Koirala's speech capped the gala event, which was taped November 20 before an audience of nearly 5,000 and premiered Thanksgiving night on the global networks of CNN.

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Filed under: CNN Heroes
November 26th, 2010
04:30 PM ET
November 26th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #676 'In leftover heaven … and thankful for it'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Presidents have long recognized the unifying power of citizens being thankful. And heaven knows we could use that now.

Dear Mr. President,

In many ways I enjoy the day after Thanksgiving more than T-Day itself. All the pressure of preparing for the big meal is over. The morning stretches out easily and more important, the leftovers crouch in the refrigerator just waiting.

There is simply nothing that compares with a few slices of turkey, some stuffing, and a steamy ladle of gravy soaking through it all. Heaven on a plate.

I also like to think more about this business of being thankful on the day after. It’s easy to be thankful on the holiday itself, because we surround ourselves with family, friends, and all kinds of wonderful foods. We laze around watching football games and chatting. We indulge in sloth, gluttony, and probably a good many other vices.

But the day after is more like real life. There are chores to be tended to, likely some extra dishes to be packed away, floors to be mopped again. Thoughts turn to Christmas shopping, decorations, and all the hum drum of our regular existence. And I try to remind myself that this is what we should truly be thankful for - the extraordinary day to day wealth of our land and our people.