(BIVN) – The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was questioned on Thursday about the disproportionate impacts of sex trafficking on Native Hawaiians.
During a U.S. Senate Judiciary oversight hearing, Sen. Hirono pressed FBI director Christopher Wray to do more to protect Native Hawaiian children from sexual exploitation.
“This kind of exploitation impacts Native Hawaiian children in the State of Hawaiʻi disproportionately,” Hirono said, “and according to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Native Hawaiian women and girls represent 67% to 77% percent of sex trafficking victims identified in recent studies.”
“Native Hawaiians also represent 37% percent of reported child sex trafficking cases,” Hirono added, “and all the federal government owes the same trust responsibility to Native Hawaiians as it does to American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
Hirono pointed out that the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, “fails to allow Native Hawaiian women and children to qualify for any type of support or innovation.”
“I hope that that the Bureau will begin to include Native Hawaiians in your work to address the missing and murdered indigenous people crisis,” Hirono told the FBI director, “and violence against indigenous people because even if VAWA doesn’t specifically allow for protection of Hawaiian women and children, there is nothing that stops the FBI from including Native Hawaiian women and children as part of your charge.”
“Can you begin to talk about it? Include them and your programmatic efforts?” Hirono asked.
“I will say that I think you put your finger on an important issue,” Wray answered, “and that our Honolulu office has been working very hard to target and aggressively pursue federal charges on known and repeat human trafficking offenders.”
“What they’re seeing, what they tell me, is that you’re seeing gangs and drug-trafficking organizations exploit vulnerable victims,” Wray continued, “and in particular the lion’s share of that is on displaced or marginalized sectors, especially Native Hawaiians.”
“In fact, I think it was just this past week, our Honolulu office recovered, I think, three minor females who were missing and at risk on the Big Island, and I know they’re very aggressively working that issue,” Wray said.