As a college sociology professor, I am expected to inspire and stimulate my students through lectures, class discussions and individual and group assignments, as well as my professional behavior. Also, I am obliged to evaluate my students by giving them papers, tests and quizzes, sometimes projects. In my classes, we explore fundamental sociological concepts, methods, and theories used to interpret the patterns of human society. We emphasize on the connection between theory and practice in examining social interaction, cultural diversity, social structure, and current global issues. Overall, my goal is to train my students to become better citizens of our global village. In sociology we focus on “WE,” instead of “I.”
At the end of each semester, when the final bell has been rung, I like to see what impressions, if any, were made on our students. In the academic process, the students have the opportunity to evaluate the class, and I, as a teacher, have the opportunity to grade their work.
However, from time to time there are also some unexpected rewards for a college sociology professor that occur when students apply the teachings to inspire the teacher and their classmates. This happened to me at the end of the fall semester of 2014. At that time, one of my female students, Faith Muthiani, volunteered to make a short video clip as her final class assignment. I was puzzled and a bit worried as it would be her first video production. The result was mind boggling. When she set up the equipment for the presentation, we could all tell from her body language that she put her heart, mind and soul into this project. She entitled her work: “Your Voice Matters,” and it turned out to be something extraordinary, something deeply moving.
And indeed, all those images left us mesmerized, captivated, touched and speechless. What a powerful way of voicing a pain and injustice! Later on, I wrote to her: “Dear Faith, after watching your masterpiece video, I regained my faith in humanity, and a future without violence for all of us. Your voice in this production is so powerful. Thank you for the moment of hope. I am so proud to be your teacher.” And she replied: “This would not be possible without you, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my voice heard. ” I always believed in the supremacy of sociology amongst social sciences, but now, I discovered it can be a healer for pain and injustice – thanks to social media presence!
The musician, Annie Lennox, once said: “As a mother, you have that impulse to wish that no child should ever be hurt, or abused, or go hungry, or not have opportunities in life.” I believe that every parent shares Lennox’s views. In recent weeks we are seeing a very strong thrust to stop and prevent any violence, trafficking and abuse against girls and women, but most importantly for equal rights for all girls and women on our planet, spearheaded by United Nations Women , as part of “ Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality .” This year, where many refugee women and children are dangerously vulnerable while fleeing their home countries the World Economic Forum annual gathering in Davos pushed for gender equality. This was long awaited great news for all of us.
In recent NBC News report: “Invisible Boys:  Inside the Push to help Unseen Victims of the Sex Trade ” we learn about another missing piece in the global drama of human abuse: the sex trafficking of boys and men in America, which is not at all a local but largely a global problem, especially in the least developed and developing countries. According to the study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, nearly half of commercially exploited children in New York City were young males. “There was this predominant narrative out there that this is an issue solely affecting girls,” project manger Meredith Dank recalled. “Then we found all these boys, and we complicated the narrative little bit.”
Some other estimates calculate the number of male victims as low as three percent. Nowadays, the societal perception of masculinity does not consider a man as a victim. The male victimhood “is one of the least talked about and least known areas of sexual violence and sexual exploitation,” said Chris Anderson, CEO of Male Survivor, a support group. The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. estimates that there are only 529 shelter beds in America for victims of human trafficking, but the survey discovered that only two of those beds were set-aside for boys. Chris Smith of who co-funded in 2012 Restore One, a Christian ministry in Greenville, North Carolina stated: “Across America, boys, just like girls, are being sold for sex. And no one is talking about it.”
According to The International Labor Organization estimates there are 21 million people being trafficked worldwide. Of these 21 million people, more than 22% are being trafficked for the purpose of forced sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking generates massive profits. The ILO estimates that the crime of human trafficking produces 150 billion in profits every year. While sex trafficking is estimated to be only 22% of human trafficking, it accounts for almost 66% of the profits.
In virtually every country in the world, human trafficking can be found in industries that are labor intensive, low paying, and with little oversight or regulation, such as: manufacturing, construction, domestic service, agriculture, mining, the sex industry, and more.
In the conclusion the courage of Faith Muthiani puts it all flat out: “ We can no longer ignore the desperate cries of help from our brothers and sisters around the world. Together, we can give them a voice and allow their stories to be heard.“ We have to hear Faith loud and clear. This final statement makes me think that our youth are capable and able to preserve and protect human dignity, as we know it, for generations to come. As an educator, I constantly question myself, "am I injecting enough hope and strength into the future of my students, who constantly hear from us, adults: change the world!" The good news is that we are changing it collectively and for the better everyday. However, it sometimes takes too long for way too many - it’s time to pick up the pace on move forward. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations just recently addressed the global youth: “I call on young people across the world to lead and act with courage.” Let’s hope that out there are many who are like Faith Muthiani, as we no longer can relay on good faith only. The best hashtag for this occasion will be #Together  !
Follow PublicSphereWB on Twitter  !
Photograph of lecture hall in Malaysia by Nafise Motlaq / World Bank 
Image of survey of trafficking in New York City by Graphiq 
Images, "Trafficking by Type" and "Profits of Trafficking" by International Human Trafficking Institute