Hawaii: Sex Trafficking Report Sparks Debate Over Women's, Indigenous Rights

According to findings from a task force commissioned by the Hawaii state legislature, more than 25% of missing girls in Hawaii are Native Hawaiian, and members of the US military play a disproportionate role in the sexual exploitation of children in the state.

Hawaii: Sex Trafficking Report Sparks Debate Over Women's, Indigenous Rights
Image credit: AP

Facts

  • According to findings from a task force commissioned by the Hawaii state legislature, more than 25% of missing girls in Hawaii are Native Hawaiian, and members of the US military play a disproportionate role in the sexual exploitation of children in the state. The average profile of a missing child is reportedly 15 years old, female, from the island of Oahu, and Native Hawaiian.
  • The report also found that Natives accounted for more than 25% of missing girls over the past decade despite making up only 10% of the state population. Furthermore, 43% of trafficking cases involving Native girls take place in Waikīkī, O‘ahu.
  • The report further found that in a 2019 operation, 38% of those arrested for soliciting sex online from an undercover cop posing as a 13-year-old were active-duty military personnel. Chief report investigator Nikki Cristobal stated that police and the military need to do better at collecting and retaining disaggregated data to better combat violence against Native Hawaiians.
  • Co-chair of the task force, Khara Jabola-Carolus, said exploitive interactions between the military and Native Hawaiians date back to the 18th century, adding that recent debate over "the occupation of land for military use" continued to this day — including environmental and health damage caused by the US Navy.
  • The state report comes amid a recent Arizona State University study involving participants who received social services at a Hawaiian nonprofit. It found that 100 out of 363 were sex trafficking victims at one point in their life, with the average age of their first trafficking experience at 21.4 years; 64% identified as all or some Native Hawaiian.

Sources: Associated Press, NBC, Garden Island, and Big Island Now.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by DNYUZ. This report shows that America's history of exploiting the lives of Native Hawaiians, and particularly Native Hawaiian women, has far from vanished. These horrific findings show the inability of the US armed forces to address this urgent problem. It is a convergence of colonization, militarization, racism, and patriarchy — the Native Hawaiian community deserves accountability and justice.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Civil Beat. US Indo-Pacific Command is eager to build relationships with the Native Hawaiian community. Local concerns and consultations with the community must guide dialogue, actions, and solutions. Because the mission of the US military is to provide for national defense, it entails being good stewards — and that means listening, partnering, and making changes as needed.