Dozens of red dresses have been spread across Waikiki to highlight the problem of human trafficking related to sexual services

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Red dresses have been placed in the sands of Waikiki Beach and hung on trees and other places along Hawaii’s tourist center as part of efforts to highlight the Day of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

That day was created by an executive order issued by President Joe Biden to address, as he put it, the “epidemic” of missing or murdered natives.

Local organizers used the day to point out the disproportionate percentage of local victims who are Hawaiians.

“Sixty-four to 77 percent of Hawaii’s sex trafficking victims were Hawaiian-born, and most were women and girls,” said Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on Women’s Status, at a news conference in Waikiki. collaboration with the University of Arizona.

“Girls born in Hawaii represent a disproportionate number of missing children in Hawaii,” Victoria Roland of the Community Against Exploitation Hawaii group told a news conference.

“At our agency, the largest group of survivors we see are Indigenous Hawaiian survivors and their children,” said Nancy Kreidman, executive director of the Domestic Violence Action Center.

Organizers said all this should sound like an alarm when it comes to Hawaii’s indigenous victims.

Some shared personal stories of trauma.

“I have been working in Waikiki since I was 16,” said Ihilani Lasconia of the AF3IRM activist group. “And these tourists, they come here, and I was a minor and they would literally ask, ‘How much?’ And if I refused and said ‘No’ to them, they would ask me to refer them to someone else. “

Ariel “Isabella” Kalua also remembered this day. A six-year-old girl, Waimanalo, was allegedly killed by her adoptive parent, who is awaiting trial.

“I think the reality is that Ariel is one of many, many young women and girls left behind by our state, silenced by our state, and it is really time to invest a lot in raising them,” said State Representative Jeanne Capella ( D-Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua, Captain Cook).

Although there are statistics, there is a lack of solid data on the exact number of Hawaiian victims, as they are not included in federal government studies on violence against indigenous peoples.

The organizers hope that the dresses – and their voices – will say a lot.

“Numbers and statistics are very dangerous and take away the human element. But we also have to recognize that we are not doing enough, ”Kapela said.

The Working Group on Missing and Murdered Women and Girls is currently collecting more data from various agencies and hopes to have preliminary figures on victims by the end of the year.

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