By Rich Figel
If you follow the news closely, you've probably noticed that human trafficking -- sex trafficking in particular -- has been getting more attention from the State Legislature and law enforcement. Not all of the media reports have been positive though because of allegations against local police (which haven't been proven in a court of law yet) and the national publicity generated by controversy over wording in a law that would seem to make it okay for cops to have sex with prostitutes as part of their investigations. There was another law proposed that was meant to protect sexually-exploited minors against criminal charges, which critics said would have inadvertently given protection to pimps and traffickers who were also minors.
I've also sat in on a presentation where Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro argued against creating new anti-trafficking legislation, on the grounds that it would only make their jobs more difficult in enforcing laws that were already on the books. I'm not an attorney, so I can't comment on the legal arguments for or against any of the laws that were proposed or shelved, but I think the fact that there is more public discussion of trafficking issues is a good thing. It shows that people are becoming increasingly aware of this criminal enterprise that preys on children, young women, and foreign laborers.
Yet it also shows how difficult it is to stop. Because trafficking crosses international borders and involves legal gray areas of exploitation -- is it smuggling, is it a labor dispute? -- there is a need for attorneys and law enforcement to find the right words that will define what is criminal and what the penalties shall be. On Friday, May 9 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM the Hawaii State Bar will be doing a presentation at 1100 Alakea Street, Suite 1000, titled "Using the Law to Obtain Justice for Human Trafficking Victims."
Among the speakers will be Terence C. Coonan, JD, from the Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights; Bow Mun Chin, Esq., Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii; and Shantae Williams of the Sussanah Wesley Community Center. It is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please call 956-9327 or email email@example.com.
Coincidentally, there's another human trafficking workshop on Friday as well at Central Union Church from 9 AM until 4 PM. This one is sponsored by Ho'ola Napua, which was formerly Courage House (a national organization that they are no longer part of). The featured speakers are George F. Rhoades, Jr., PhD., who is a licensed clinical psychologist with a long list of credentials; and Jessica Munoz, a licensed nurse who has personally seen the devastating effects of trafficking in ER rooms where she worked. Their topic will be "The Understanding and Treatment of Sexually Trafficked Children and Young Women." It is free, and if you'd like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know it's short notice, so if you can't attend but would like to learn more about human trafficking in Hawaii, you can go to www.808HALT.com. I'm part of the coalition that produced videos about trafficking here, which have also been translated into other languages on the 808HALT YouTube Channel.
For daily viewing times and info about the new May episode of Career Changers TV, visit our website (schedule subject to change for high school sports this weekend). You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.