Injustice Has Not Ceased
We certainly are living in a unique time. The spread of COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives in ways we have never experienced before. Like most of you reading this right now, I am at home in the middle of a workday. My wife and two children are here as well. In fact, I have been working from home all week and will continue to do so for…well…I don’t really know how long. The truth is, no one knows how long this social distancing scenario will last. And, if you are like me, you are already tired of watching the news and completely caught up on all of your favorite TV shows.
Yet, despite all of the closures and cancelations, injustice has not ceased. Many of us are enjoying the extra time with family, but we should not waste the opportunity to steward this time for justice.
Sexual Exploitation & COVID-19
We should be aware that self-isolation is extremely dangerous for those who are being sexually exploited by family members. There are thousands of children who are now forced to be at home with their abusers 24/7.
Prostituted women and men are still forced to meet the quotas imposed upon them by their traffickers, which means direct contact with consumers who could have the deadly virus. Of course, this is a constant public health threat that exists for prostituted individuals, but the rise of COVID-19 adds a new layer of risk.
Then there is the question of what happens to those being sold in cantinas and strip clubs now that these establishments cannot operate. It is probable that non-essential businesses like massage parlors and spas will be forced to close as well. Where will all of these exploited women go? How will they survive? Where will they be forced to work by their traffickers now?
Hope In The Midst of Adversity
Intervention strategies are on pause while agencies work out ways to pivot in this complicated time. Most shelters that provide beds for exiting survivors are under quarantine and cannot accept new clients. This means that the exit pipeline, which we have worked for years to establish, is greatly interrupted.
Thankfully, residential facilities, like the Elijah Rising Restoration Campus, remain operational and continue to provide excellent care to those who have survived the sex industry. However, they too are practicing social distancing, which limits available activities and outings for residents. This is extremely challenging as boredom only exacerbates trauma.
Nonprofits continue to employ people such as myself to keep the organizations running. The restoration program continues to provide for all of the resident’s daily needs, which, frankly, costs a lot of money. Unfortunately, fundraisers are canceled and donors are wondering about market volatility and an uncharted economic reality.
I know I have painted a rather bleak picture, but I believe there is great hope in this time. We have an opportunity like never before, to rally around vulnerable populations, such as women who have survived sex trafficking, and continue to take a stand against injustice in our communities.
Elijah Rising has always looked to the words of Isaiah 1:16-17 as a guide for our work. And I think this passage is especially applicable today:
“Wash yourselves (for 20 seconds…sorry, I couldn’t resist); make yourselves clean; remove the evil doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”Isaiah 1:16-17
Social distancing and self-isolation does not have to prevent us from embodying these words and should not keep us from fulfilling this mission. Now is our time to love God and love our neighbors in remarkable ways. We have an incredible opportunity to steward this time for justice and, if we do so, I am convinced justice will “roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Join Us In Stewarding This Time For Justice
Therefore, I invite you to join us as we offer some suggestions on how to best steward this time for justice. Over the next couple of weeks, the Elijah Rising staff will be posting a series of practical ways we can keep up the work of justice, even if we are at home in the middle of a workday.