By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
HONOLULU (AP) - The latest attempt to ban sex trafficking in Hawaii would punish minors who engage in sex work differently than adults in the industry.
Advocates have been pushing to ban sex trafficking in Hawaii for a decade, but bills before the Legislature have failed. Prosecutors have said they need the leverage of charging prostitutes so they will testify against their pimps.
This year's bill would decriminalize prostitution for those under the age of 18, with the aim of treating minors as victims. For adults, exchanging sex for money would be a petty misdemeanor, but for minors it would be a violation.
Some opponents say that would give younger, willing sex workers an advantage.
Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro says pimps could use it as a tool to recruit minors.