Sunday, October 27, 2013

Real men don't buy girls.

"Traffickers will stop
when men stop buying women."
Sometimes you feel a personal connection to a book and that just makes it the more authentic to you, not to mention more of an arrow straight through the heart. In my case this was on the double with this book. Not only is India basically my second home but I also quite narrowly left Thailand about a week before the tsunami hit. After long consideration, my friend and I decided not to stretch our stay there across Christmas and New Year's, after all. We weren't too pleased with it at first but by the end of the year we were happy we ran out of money and simply had to go home.
My eternal search for good fiction taking place in India pushed me to the doorstep (or should I say cover?) of this exquisite story. Corban Addison was a name I had never heard of before and I was surprised how a first time author could receive such amazing reviews given the complexity of the topic that he had chosen. So I simply had to read it. A Walk Across the Sun is a story that transcends good fiction. Because it could be true and it most likely is a reality for (too) many young girls and women. It shines light on a very monumental problem that we as a global society are facing: human trafficking. The worst part of this problem is that there is not enough awareness. Human trafficking is happening in every town, even in yours. Believe it or not. No matter how small or big your country or town are and no matter how respectable they are, there is an underground horror story that is happening away from everyone, except those who seek it for their horrifying pleasure.

"Yet her father had taught her that failing to act
in the face of human suffering is inhuman."

The story speaks of two sisters, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita. When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India they are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade. On the other side of the world in Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis. He makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India where his wife is from. He chooses to work for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent's human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals. In the true thriller fashion he will chase them around the globe as their fate keeps turning quicker than the tide.

The film which Corban Addison watched with his wife. It changed his life.

It's not only that Mr. Addison's work is compelling and thrilling, grips you and won't let you go, but it is also important as it no doubt has already opened many eyes and more importantly debates (and will continue to do so). This is probably one of the reasons fiction writing exists. To not only address important questions but to raise awareness, to bring this problem which is not talked about enough, to brighter light. As Thomas Clarke tries to find personal redemption through helping two innocent girls he realizes the heartbreaking fact that he cannot help all of them, no matter how hard he tries. And that is where we can step in.
I find it absolutely disgusting and revolting that such evil exists. Taking advantage of a horrible situation (such as wars, natural disasters, personal tragedies, poverty, etc.) makes it even more repulsive. It enrages me that greed is the only thing that drives these actions. Just as The Whistleblower quite openly blew the whistle on human trafficking in light of war (and the way those who were supposed to help and protect were actually the perpetrators), A Walk Across the Sun does it in its own way. I have cousins and nieces that remind me of those two girls and it pained me to read on and see what was unfolding through those pages in front of my eyes. In my Indian part of family there are girls just like Ahalya and Sita, who speak and act just like they did, they are their age, bright, funny, sweet, beautiful and innocent young girls and if anyone would try to hurt them, I cannot imagine what I would do. The description of the city was amazingly accurate and the book left me wanting to help. I'm sure that was the writer's intention for every reader and I am certain he succeeded with every person who picked up the book.
A few months ago we contacted Mr. Addison and asked him to answer a few questions. He kindly agreed but the amount of questions we gathered wasn't small and he has since had a new book released, The Garden of Burning Sand and has also been promoting it so we ask you for patience, we are sure he will find the time to give you more insight and more information. Until then, here is an interview of his that everyone should watch.

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