State official describes threat of 'imminent physical harm' after release of sex trafficking study

State official describes threat of 'imminent physical harm' after release of sex trafficking study

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women says she heard about a possible threatening text second hand from multiple community advocates.

That was around 10:30 Friday morning at her state office at the Leiopapa building on Beretania Street.

"We received concern from the sex trafficking advocates community that there was a very serious threat what was described as imminent physical harm directed at me because of our commission's recent publication of a demand study that exposed the demand for prostitution in Hawaii," she said.

Jabola-Carolus called police, sent her workers home and then was escorted out of the building by state sheriffs. The state ordered all offices in the building into lock down for about 45 minutes according to Jason Minami, deputy director of the Department of Human Resources Development.

"I think they are rattled, but we were in in anticipation of push back," said Jabola-Carolus.

The study with Arizona State University's Office of Sex Trafficking was released four days before Friday's threat.

"Some people feel the need to control our organization and our message through silence and attack," she said.

"Our study showed that men buying sex or seeking to buy sex from women is culturally accepted here and that is so pervasive 1 in 7 men presently in Hawaii are searching for sex online to buy so that's men in our lives," said Jabola-Carolus.

Tracy Ryan is executive director for Harm Reduction Hawaii and is an advocate for giving sex workers a voice. She says she doesn't condone violence, but says some in that community felt the study unfairly attacked their industry.

"People get angry about it because a lot of the people feel they are personally being attacked," said Ryan.

Despite the threat, Jabola-Carolus says says she and her agency are not backing down from their work.

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