Demand for prostitution increases in Honolulu while RIMPAC is in town
Human trafficking activist Kathryn Xian say, when big events are in town, it usually means big dollar signs for pimps and johns.
HONOLULU - Honolulu becomes a home base to military members from 25 nations during RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific.
Some claim when the sun goes down, the people manning the world's newest military technology seek out the world's oldest profession: Sex for sale and in high demand when big events like RIMPAC come to town.
"Both adults and child victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii have told us that about half the men who subject them to prostitution by being a john are military," Kathryn Xian, human rights activist said.
Xian says known prostitution hotspots like Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu are the go-to locations for military customers.
The Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women are armed with new data on prostitution and sex trafficking demand saying:
"There are a huge number of buyers on military bases. During RIMPAC, that gets exacerbated because we have tens of thousands of young male soldiers from dozens of foreign militaries looking to have a good time, which can include buying women and girls for sex. Ultimately it's up to Hawaii to end men treating our most vulnerable women as commodities."
A law took effect in 2016 made sex trafficking a Class A felony.
"We have a very good law combating it on a state level as well as a federal level. What people can do is keep that pressure of keeping this on the forefront of peoples minds, in the best interest in the safety of our community. Keep that pressure on," Xian said.
Xian is careful to point out she's not looking for a fight with the armed forces but a collaboration.
"We're not trying to lambast the military, we're not trying to say that it's their fault. We are decrying an issue here that's significant with the community and the health of our community. We are will to work collaboratively with the military, with the state, with the county, to abolish this problem once and for all," Xian said.
For U.S. service members, solicitation of a prostitute is a violation of military law and is criminally punishable.
RIMPAC officials said in a statement:
"Additionally, this is something that all of the countries involved in RIMPAC take very seriously -- for reasons of crime prevention, transmittal of sexual disease, and prevention of trafficking in persons where people are taken against their will to act as prostitutes... Treating individuals with dignity and respect is something we take extremely seriously, and when there are any indications that those values are not being followed, we conduct appropriate investigations and take action as necessary."
The officials also said all sailors entering port receive a briefing before of off-limits areas and situations to avoid.
RIMPAC runs from June 27 to August 2.