If you are anything like me, you really like to feel joyful at Christmas. I go to extra effort to decorate the house, bake cookies so the house smells good, and plan get-togethers to celebrate the season.
This year has felt different because of Covid-19. It’s harder to rally joyful feelings in the midst of a pandemic. Perhaps it’s feeling displaced from our normal routines and doing the things that make us feel alive that opens up a new awareness of the suffering around us. I have thought many times over the past several months about how difficult this pandemic has been for others who have lost their livelihood, their home, a loved one. It can be very difficult to know what to say or do to help.
This awareness has made me think differently about the victims of sex-trafficking as well. It’s so hard to think about trafficked young women and imagine how much they are suffering. What is Christmas like when you are being sold for the use of another? Where do we begin to fix this massive injustice in our world? I wish that Covid-19 would shut down the trafficking industry completely, but sadly it hasn’t. If anything, it’s gotten worse. People are desperate for a quick fix to alleviate anxiety and depression, and often men will turn to prostitution or pornography to push away the bad feelings. This has only afflicted more suffering on those who are being trafficked.
This week was a small victory for victims of trafficking. Pornhub, one of the largest pornography website companies, deleted over 10 million videos after much pressure from the media. Mastercard and Visa also pulled their services from them, making a massive public statement about how wrong it is to abuse others in the name of entertainment. While it doesn’t end all trafficking, it is a step in the right direction and worth celebrating. It feels that attention is being drawn to this injustice and gives me great hope that we are gaining momentum in taking down this industry.
And so, while perhaps Christmas feels very different this year in light of our current world circumstances, I find myself feeling a different sort of joy, the joy that comes from seeing some light in the darkness. I find myself hopeful for what 2021 will bring to the fight against human trafficking. And mostly, I feel grateful for being part of the change I want to see in the world.