(BIVN) – A study found that the response rate to online sex selling advertisements in Hawaiʻi is higher than anywhere else studied in the U.S., and has led to the estimate that 1 out of every 11 men in Hawaiʻi over the age of 18 is an online sex buyer.
Khara Jabola-Carolus of the Hawaiʻi State Commission on the Status of Women co-authored the multi-part study about sex trafficking in Hawaiʻi, along with researchers from the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research (STIR) at Arizona State University. The study entitled Sex Trafficking in Hawaiʻi will “encompass exploring online sex buyers and the response to sex buying demand in Hawaiʻi, discovering the experiences of sex trafficking victims regarding recruitment, retention, exiting, and determining the Hawaiʻi community’s developing capacity to respond to sex trafficking victims of all ages and genders.”
According to Part 1: Exploring Online Sex Buyers, which has already been released:
Understanding the methods used by sex buyers and the size of the sex buyer population is an important part of developing an understanding of sex trafficking in a community. The influence of sex buyers must not be overlooked as traffickers respond to the demands of sex buyers (finding a person for them to buy sex from). Prostitution and sex trafficking are visible only for the purpose of locating and coordinating the sex sale with sex buyers. For this study, we did not intend to look for persons trying to buy sex from a child or an obviously sex trafficked person. This is a broad look at the response to the online sex market in Hawaiʻi. Currently, little is known in the research literature about the Hawaiʻi sex market, both indoors (brothels, hotels, bars, online, etc.) and outdoors (street, in cars). This phase of the study focused on the online sex market and the response from sex buyers in Hawaiʻi. The data collected for this project produced an estimate the size of the population of online sex buyers in two locations in Hawaiʻi, Oahu and the Big Island.
Jabola-Carolus talked about the research during a Human Trafficking Panel Session held on Monday evening in Hilo. The talk was organized by the Zonta Club of Hilo. Big Island Video News will soon be posting the full video of the discussion.
According to the key findings of the 2018 Sex Trafficking in Hawaiʻi study, “people, including children, are being sold for sex in Hawaiʻi as demonstrated by 58 online sex advertisements found on the Oahu Backpage.com webpage in one day.” The website has since been shut down by federal authorities.
Sex selling advertisements placed on Backpage.com in March 2018 “received an astronomical response rate” with 407 unique contacts (text or call), the study says. Far more than the number of unique contacts in cities like Phoenix, Chicago, and Denver.
“Hawaiʻi does not currently have an organized effort to combat sex buying although it is illegal under state law. Honolulu Police Department arrested 50 sex buyers from January 2017 to June 2018,ʻ the study says. “Changing online sex buying behavior will take the efforts of the entire community to address the secrets of sex trafficking perpetration and victimization in Hawaiʻi.”
This article has been updated to clarify certain aspects of the report and to include a link to the report.