Dozens of red dresses spread out across Waikiki to highlight the problem of sex trafficking

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Red dresses have been placed in the sand of Waikiki Beach and hung from trees and other spots along Hawaii’s tourist hub as part of an effort to mark Women’s Day. missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The day was created by an executive order issued by President Joe Biden to address what he called an “epidemic” of missing or murdered Indigenous people.

Local organizers used the day to highlight the disproportionate percentage of local victims of Hawaiian descent.

“Sixty-four to 77 percent of sex trafficking victims in Hawaii are Native Hawaiians, and the majority are women and girls,” said Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the status of women during a press conference. in Waikiki, citing studies in collaboration with the University of Arizona.

“Native Hawaiian girls represent a disproportionate number of missing children in Hawaii,” Victoria Roland of Community Against Exploitation Hawaii said at the press conference.

“In our agency, the largest group of survivors we see are Native Hawaiian survivors and their children,” said Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center.

Organizers said all of this should sound alarm bells when it comes to Native Hawaiian casualties.

Some shared personal stories of trauma.

“I’ve worked in Waikiki since I was 16,” said Ihilani Lasconia of activist group AF3IRM. “And these tourists, they come here, and I was underage and they were literally asking, ‘How much?’ And if I refused and told them “No”, they would ask me to refer them to someone else.

Ariel “Isabella” Kalua was also commemorated on this day. Six-year-old Waimanalo was reportedly killed by her adoptive parent, who is awaiting trial.

“I think the reality is that Ariel is one of the many, many young women and girls that our state has left behind, that our state has silenced, and it’s really time we really invested a lot in raising them. “said State Representative Jeanne. Kapela (D-Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua, Captain Cook).

Although statistics exist, there is a lack of accurate data on the exact number of Native Hawaiian victims, as they have not been included in federal government studies of violence against Native people.

Organizers hope the dresses — and their voices — will speak volumes.

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

The Missing and Murdered Women and Girls Task Force is currently compiling more data from various agencies and hopes to have preliminary casualty figures by the end of the year.

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