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Sex Trafficking in Hawaiʻi: Part III: Sex Trafficking Experiences Across Hawaiʻi.

Roe-Sepowitz, Dominique.; Jabola-Carolus, Khara – 2020

Human trafficking has been found in all fifty U.S. states and is an issue that impacts both domestic and international victims. Human trafficking is defined as a crime that involves forcing, coercing, or enticing a person to provide labor or engage in exchanging sex for something of value. Victims of human trafficking are often hidden from public view because exploitation occurs in private homes, hotels, vacation rentals, massage parlors, or online. Little is known about sex trafficking victims, traffickers and sex buyers in Hawai‘i. This study is only the third research report published to date to explore sex trafficking in Hawai‘i. The lack of a general understanding of the scope and complexity of sex trafficking in Hawai‘i has allowed the victimization of Hawai‘i residents to continue. Services for juvenile and adult sex trafficking victims continue to be very limited. In both this study and our previous research in Hawai‘i, sex trafficking victims have been identified in urban and rural areas, in hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers, youth attending school, and in juvenile and adult correctional settings. This study of 363 participants in Hawai‘i, found nearly 100 sex trafficking victims. One out of every five sex trafficking victims identified in this study had been sex trafficked as a child. Sixty-four percent of the sex trafficking victims identified as being all or some Native Hawaiian. Over 20 percent of the sex trafficking victims were male. Nearly a quarter of the sex trafficking victims were sex trafficked by a family member (parent, guardian, sibling, uncle, grandfather). The sex trafficking victims reported high rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) including family violence and neglect, childhood sexual abuse, domestic and dating violence, having a mental health diagnosis, struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and being homeless. The needs of the sex trafficking victims included medical support, mental health and drug counseling, housing, and trauma-informed care in all systems. The sex trafficking victims described being in contact with many of Hawai‘i’s institutions of care- in some cases while they were being sex trafficked- including schools, hospitals, mental health providers, criminal justice, and child welfare services. Study Working in partnership with Child and Family Service, a large statewide non-profit social service organization, this study focuses on the sex trafficking experiences of a large group of individuals receiving social services on five islands in Hawai‘i. The participants were given a six-page survey to complete which included questions about abuse, substance use, family connections and dysfunction, homelessness, health and mental health issues. The survey also focused on sex and labor exploitation experiences. For three months in 2019, the survey was administered to participants by trained social workers or support staff at Child and Family Service, which serves many populations and in many locations in Hawai‘i . The information shared by the participants through this survey illustrates that sex trafficking currently exists in Hawai‘i in disturbing numbers.