RIMPAC lures out-of-town pimps, sex traffickers
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise is here, so are more prostitutes.
A woman we're calling "Kate" was just a teenager when she was forced into the sex trade.
"I was 14," she said.
RIMPAC was her pimp's biggest payday.
"Aside from the military that's already here, you have military from all over the world," she said. "They have money and they need something to do."
Kathryn Xian of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery said just like RIMPAC participants, out-of-town pimps and sex traffickers descend on Waikiki.
"They come here in droves. They bring their stables. And they make a lot of money because of the influx of clientele," she said.
Right now web site called Backpage is popping with postings of escorts going after business from the military.
"People are willing to do anything to get that business. They'll post all kinds of different stuff," she said.
"Those Backpage ads are absolutely associated with RIMPAC. That's why they mention military discounts," Xian said.
Competition for business is fierce. Pimps and traffickers pay extra to keep their girls ads at the top of the list. That's where Kate was advertised.
"They just said I was small and sweet, and I was there for their excitement," she said.
This year 22 countries are participating in RIMPAC. A public affairs officer said representatives from Navy Region Hawaii board every vessel that sails into port.
"The representatives board the ships and provide a safety, security and legal brief to the participants," Lt. Lenaya Rotklein said.
But Xian said RIMPAC organizers must do more to protect sex trafficking victims by delivering a stronger anti-human trafficking message.
"When you have different types of military personnel from different countries where the laws regarding sex trafficking and prostitution may be completely different, you have an open door to potential abuses," she said.
Kate was a prostitute for eight years. She worked through several RIMPAC exercises. She found a way out..
"There are people out there who are willing to help and take care of you. you can live a normal life even though right now it feels it's a million miles away," she said.