Corban Addison, author of A Walk Across the Sun – a novel about human trafficking – shed light recently on what he called the “most compelling justice issue of our time.”

The Nov. 1 event was organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office as part of the 2012-2013 theme of “The Changing Face of Freedom in Today’s Turbulent Times.” It was also a featured event for The India Center at UCF. More than 125 people attended.

Although he had some previous awareness of human trafficking, Addison said, it was the movie Trade that personalized the subject for him in a significant way. In fact, he added, he was inspired to write a book that would similarly draw attention to modern slavery. Addison described the problem as “profoundly ugly,” and stressed that the issue cannot be ignored, despite its repugnance. He noted that “we miss the fact that slavery has a human face.”

Addison described the difficult process of researching the book, saying that it was often disheartening to learn that “you can buy a girl like you can buy a pizza.” Research for the book took him undercover into the brothels of Mumbai, but Addison warned that human trafficking is a universal challenge affecting millions of people, and that it is “happening on our own doorstep.”

The victims and the captors are often the focus of discussions on human trafficking, he stated, but he suggested more attention be paid to the consumers – the people who buy slaves. Those people, he said, are police officers, politicians and even neighbors. Until recently, he noted, average Americans had viewed human trafficking as a non-issue because “we don’t want to look at the enemy in the mirror.”

When asked what could be done to counteract this growing scourge, Addison responded that a combination of culture change and education will be crucial, that “we need to talk with children and address the underlying roots and fundamental conceptions men have of women.”

Addison said inspiration can be found in the leadership of survivors—those who have lived through horrid human trafficking experiences and managed to move on with their lives. Those examples leave him with a sense of optimism regarding solutions.

“Hope is a local and global phenomenon; it is happening every day,” he said.

In addition to the Global Perspectives Office and The India Center, sponsors and partners included The India Group, Anil and Chitra Deshpande India Program Endowed Fund, UCF Human Trafficking Awareness Program, UCF Diplomacy Program, Orlando Area Committee on Foreign Relations, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, CliftonLarsonAllen, Restoring Human Wellness at UCF, UCF Women’s Studies Program, UCF International Services Center, UCF Political Science Department, UCF LIFE, UCF Book Festival 2013 in association with the Morgridge International Reading Center and the Global Connections Foundation.