By Naz Brown-Almaweri
Last Thursday, Corban Addison was invited on campus by the Sorum Book Club to speak about his novel, “A Walk Across the Sun.” This is a campus initiative that brings authors and their books to campus.
“A Walk Across the Sun” was published in 2012, and is one of his four books that has been published.
Addison’s book tells the story of a pair of sisters who have fallen into a horrid sex trafficking ring in India, and their eventual meeting with an American attorney who is determined to save them from sex trafficking which, unfortunately, is an issue that affects both the U.S. and India.
Addison’s wife, Marcy, encouraged him to write on the issue of human trafficking, an issue of which they did not fully understand the complexity until they watched a sex trafficking documentary.
He remembered feeling “ignorant and in the dark” about this issue, until the film “ripped the cover off of (their) gilded views.”
At the time, Addison was working as a lawyer, a career that he was willing to pursue for his whole life because it provided a stable life for his new family.
However, his heart was set on writing novels, especially ones that “build bridges across all values of life.”
Addison began to conduct research for his story by traveling to India. An organization similar to the one in the story allowed him to shadow its staff as they assisted in young women’s release from a sex trafficking ring.
He observed undercover investigators while they patrolled the red light districts and spoke with social workers as they cared for survivors living in safe houses.
He still processes the issue and is surprised that they would allow him to come face-to-face with the former victims.
Addison could only imagine the difficulty of their recovery, as he is a male and a foreigner. The social workers acted as mediators since he was not allowed to speak directly to the girls and women.
Additionally, he accompanied an undercover guide to brothels in Mumbai and Bombay to obtain a firsthand account of the magnitude of this issue.
It disgusted him that one could simply ask a taxi driver and they could take you to a brothel. After this brutal yet enlightening experience, Addison was able to begin his writing and become an advocate to raise awareness.
Addison juxtaposed the issue in India to its status in America. He was surprised at America’s lack of concern for this issue.
America does not have a recovery program for survivors of sex trafficking, which leaves many young men and women forced to return to the abuse or be admitted to a juvenile detention if they are unable to be independent.
Most cases become “irrelevant from a legal standpoint” when victims come of legal age. The FBI and law enforcement aim to rescue underage victims, with a case built on the violation of the age of consent.
The event’s participants found it upsetting to know that once an individual is of age, there is less effort put into recovering them from sex trafficking.
Addison believed that the most effective way to prevent this issue is to eliminate the demand for the act.
He suggested that it is necessary to educate young men and women in law enforcement because many victims are immediately profiled as criminals, even when they are forced into the situation.
In India, law enforcement leans towards bribes and corruption because most officers can barely financially support their families.
Addison explained that there are several factors that cause a victim to refuse help.
He explained, “Victims adapt to their abuse and feel no need to be freed. The form a distorted view of family, as they find solace in former slave girls and the men who sell them.”
When Elora Weil ’16 asked Addison to speak about his journey towards publication, he shared that having a strong network and an acknowledged agent is what led to his book publication.
Many publishers gave him feedback, but ultimately replied, “Thank you, but no thank you.” Addison was not discouraged by the rejections.
He hired an editor and used his network to have his book released by an international publishing company.
Addison advises aspiring writers, “Write if you have a passion to do so, and just keep going. If you care about it, chances are someone else will. You may get it published by (a well-known publisher) or by a smaller publisher. Don’t give up!”
This powerful addition to Sex Trafficking Awareness Week highlighted the importance of organizations that work to help sex trafficking victims transition into survivors and the support of a diverse group of people to tackle the issue of sex exploitation.