By: Lokelani Wilder
Hawaiian lawmakers recently created a new task force to research missing and murdered Native Hawaiian women and girls. The task force will be co-chaired by the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The report is due at the end of 2023.
Historically, there is a lack of data relating to domestic violence and trafficking, specifically for Native Hawaiians. The absence of comprehensive data on missing and murdered Native Hawaiian women and girls does not mean the absence of missing and murdered Native Hawaiian women and girls. Not having data allows inaction to happen. Even now, limited data shows that Native Hawaiian women and girls are disproportionately affected by violent, gender-based crimes. One previous study in Hawaii found that 64 percent of individuals sex trafficked here are Native Hawaiians.
State based organizations committed to the prevention of sex trafficking, describe the study as a big step toward alleviating and hopefully solving this problem. These organizations believe that this issue has a long road ahead. The state honestly does not know how long the road is or how big the problem is until it is researched. The pandemic has closed schools and businesses. Women and girls are now on-line more than ever. Researchers hypothesize that sex trafficking may be an even larger issue because of pandemic increased vulnerability. Regardless the outcome, the study will assuredly increase the greater community’s awareness and provides us with another tool to end the murder and stealing of Native Hawaiian women and girls.