Soetoro-Ng speaks at conference

Jamie Gruenwald
Jamie Gruenwald
Maya Soetoro-Ng
Maya Soetoro-Ng
Libette Garcia
Libette Garcia

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - More than a week after President-elect Barack Obama's big win, his sister addresses a crowd, only it wasn't about the election.

Maya Soetoro-Ng served as moderator for a anti sex-trafficking conference this afternoon, hoping to draw attention to a problem that harms nearly 1.2 million children each year.

About a 100 people showed up to hear her message.

Using her limelight from her brother, she's putting a spotlight on the world's troubling human trafficking issue. It's poetry and the push for progress at "Girl Fest Hawaii's Anti-Sex Trafficking Conference." Among the crowd, Maya Soetoro-Ng, half-sister of President-elect Barack Obama. She stayed silent about anything election, but called attention to what's known as "modern-day slavery."

"This is a global problem," said Obama's sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

While not an expert on the topic, those in the crowd like Jamie Gruenwald say they appreciate her sincerity despite what's been an emotional month. She lost her grandmother and just days later saw her brother elected to The White House.

"Just because your brother is in a high position, it doesn't make any difference. If your brother is in a very low position you have the same worries and same cares," said Kaimuki Resident Jamie Gruenwald.

"Anyone who has people's attention because of who they're related to, it's great to be able to draw that attention towards a cause," said Waikiki Resident Libette Garcia.

This peaceful protest in Hawaii helped push lawmakers to make the state the first in the nation to make sex-tourism illegal. Soetoro-Ng says that's just a start.

"If we want to protect women, we need to think about this issue in a multi-faceted manner," said Soetoro-Ng.

With an estimated 200,000 American children working in the sex industry, this star's power is positive.

"A person lending out their hand and reaching out for people to come and use their resources and recognize that they are important," said Garcia.

Soetoro-Ng says it wasn't the right time to talk about the election because she didn't want to draw any attention away from the conference.

But expect her to finally open up sometime in the next few weeks.