On July 5, community members gathered together at the YWCA Laniakea Fuller Hall to witness a Bill Signing Ceremony hosted by Governor David Y. Ige. The ceremony was dedicated to the joint package of bills submitted this session by the Women’s Legislative Caucus. Of the seven bills signed into law, HB1902 – Relating to Sex Trafficking was the one bill Ho’ola Na Pua supporters had their eyes set on.
HB1902 “replaces the offense of Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree with Sex Trafficking to be classified as a violent crime and a class A felony. Requires proof of negligence as to the age of the victim when a person commits the offense of sex trafficking and the victim is a minor. Provides that the offense of prostitution by a person younger than eighteen years of age is a violation and subject to the jurisdiction of the family court. Establishes a class C felony for the act of paying for sex in reckless disregard of the fact that the other person is a victim of sex trafficking. Expands the Department of the Attorney General’s Statewide Witness Program to include sex trafficking; provides victims with access to criminal injury compensation; and amends laws relating to civil liability for cases of coercion into prostitution. Makes amendments to strengthen enforcement of laws and increase penalties against the sex trafficker.”
Hawai’i is the last state in the United States to pass a law that specifically bans sex trafficking. This bill sets a historic moment for our state. We extend our sincere gratitude to the advocates who fought to make this change happen.
Jade Yim Pham, Advocacy Intern
July 05, 2016