My name is Jesse Kapugi. I have been a resident of Honolulu county for three years. I am writing concerning an issue that Hawaii is plagued with: sex trafficking. While this heinous crime takes place across the globe, recent legal changes and media coverage have brought the issue to center stage here on the Hawaiian Islands.
Sex trafficking has been embedded in Hawaii’s history for hundreds of years. Stories tell of American whalers trafficking Hawaiian girls all the way back in 1825 (Popescu 2016). Trafficking in the modern era now involves foreign actors and the victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii are not only local women and children but also immigrants from countries all around Asia and Europe (Popescu 2016).
Hawaii is particularly susceptible to the sex trafficking industry due to its location and the large sums of tourists that pass through it (Popescu 2016). According to Katheryn Xian, director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, Honolulu, the city within Hawaii that sees the largest tourist population, has more than 100 illegal brothels (Davis 2015). Another reason Hawaii has become such a hotbed for sex trafficking is victims lack of trust in the police force. Hawaii has been notorious for charging the victims of sex trafficking with crimes when they attempt to come forward, which has created a distrust in the system and ultimately results in women never coming forward and their pimps avoiding legal recourse by police (Popescu 2016).
My proposal to minimize this crime is to create a safe reporting environment for the women and children enslaved by sex traffickers. This could be done by creating a dedicated taskforce within the Honolulu police department, which would be specifically set up to help safe guard women who come forward with information that could lead to the arrest of traffickers. This task force would need to be specially trained in victim counseling, safe harboring and targeting perpetrators of trafficking. By primarily focusing on taking down pimps and traffickers, and not charging the women being victimized, trust could be restored in the police. Author Jackie Jenkins-Scott, proposes that local leaders can have a global impact by solving issues within their communities (2013). I believe that by minimizing sex trafficking in Hawaii and creating a fostering environment for its victims, many lives across the world could be bettered by never having to face the horrors of this crime.