37 Billion dollars is one expert's conservative estimate on how much the sex trafficking industry rakes in every year.
Up until recently, Hawaii was one of only four states without any human trafficking laws on the books.
?The last thing that I would ever dream of is this happening to me here in my very own home,? said a former prostitute named Kalei, who talked to KITV reporter Lara Yamada on the 3rd floor of the capitol. Kalei, an Oahu girl, said in her early 20's, divorced, and with a young child, she met a man at a bar and got caught in a dangerous world. ??I ran away countless times. Every time I ran away my pimp at the time would find me and abuse me worse that the times before,? she said. In July, the governor did sign two bills into law that make human trafficking a felony, but some said, it's not nearly enough. ?At the state capital, victims advocates, experts, even victims themselves came out to create a better network for victims of labor and sex trafficking. ?These predators visit schools, high schools, intermediate schools, they go into the community all hours of the day to find, as they call it, ?new work,?? said Kalei. In addition, experts said big events, the ones touted for boosting tourism, also bring the kind of visitors we don't want. ?Any national or international events are typically where pimps bring the girls they traffic. Th Super Bowl, national conventions, political conventions, sporting events, places that will exploit victims,? said Psychiatrist Dr. Chad Koyanagi, from the UH Department of Psychiatry. ?Human trafficking in Hawaii is rampant. It is rampant. Within one week we got four victims of child sex trafficking and we?re working on a case with possibly a thousand labor trafficking victims over the past 10 years, ? said Kathryn Xian, from the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery or PASS. Xian says the bills signed into law in 2011 help on the criminal level, but don?t help the victims out of their dark world. She's now helping to draft six bills, she says, to do just that.
Including bills to: -create a state plan to address human trafficking. -bring education about the issue to schools. -require doctors to report cases of human trafficking. -require hotels to post a hotline number that victims can call. All steps Xian said will help victims return to a normal life, and protect potential victims from predators. ?It is a problem in Hawaii and its not going to go away by ignoring it,? said Xian. ?It could be someone's daughter, I'm someone's daughter, mother, sister and it happened to me a local girl,? said Kalei.
Lawmakers said they plan to review the bills, and work with parties from law enforcement, human services, transportation - and more - to prepare bills for the 2012 legislative session.