Nicholas D. Kristof introduces us to Somaly Mam, a former child prostitute in Cambodia who is now an activist operating a shelter for survivors. Kristof and Mam explain the injustice and shame in sex trafficking. For the women in these circumstances (an estimated 700,000 girls trafficked for sex around the world), there seems to be a sense of defeatism. I have sex with men for money; this is what I know. What else can I do?
“Slavery was a hard problem, too,” Kristof says, “and yet, we managed to overcome it in the 19th century. And now, people like Somaly are showing us how we can overcome this 21st century version of slavery.”
I’m an ardent fan of Nicholas Kristof’s work. Not content to simply report on domestic issues or international affairs, he has always sought to report on the injustice of everyday folks in other countries, the stories often overlooked. Humanitarianism is something that seems a calling, something that can not be quantified in monetary terms or self-interest. And Kristof’s not alone in his attempts to push beyond material success and to utilize his notoriety and skills for the common good. Dave Eggers and Sean Penn, a writer and an actor safely ensconced in their respective fields, immediately come to mind as great humanitarians. As a writer and teacher myself, this commitment to humanitarian work is something I admire and seek to emulate.
Kristof has made the cause of social justice–and its partner, social change–central to his journalistic work.