Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up about 10.5 percent of the state’s population, according to the most recent census data. Yet, according to the Office of Native Hawaiian Affairs, they comprise between 67 and 77 percent of sex-trafficking victims.
Sen. Mazie Hirono highlighted this fact during an exchange with FBI director Christopher Wray at a Judiciary Committee hearing.
“The federal government owes the same trust responsibility to Native Hawaiians as it does to American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Sen. Hirono. “Even if [the Violence Against Women Act] doesn’t specifically allow for protection of Hawaiian women and children, there’s nothing that stops the FBI from including Native Hawaiian women and children as part of your charge.”
Wray responded that Sen. Hirono had “put [her] finger on an important issue” and said his Hawai‘i office “has been working very hard to target and aggressively pursue federal charges on known and repeat human-trafficking offenders.”