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Native Hawaiian sex trafficking victim invited to State of the Union

Kalei Grant lived a nightmare for two years. She met a man in a bar shortly after her divorce. He courted her and seemed genuinely interested. Then the truth came out. He was a pimp and ran an escort service. He beat his girls right in front of Kalei until they were all bloodied.

“He returned and said, ‘now if you don’t do what I say or tell the police, I will kill you. I will kill your daughter. I will kill your mother,'” Grant recalled. “I was horrified. I didn’t know who to turn to and what to do next. Being raped and abused started to be common in my life. I felt I was living a nightmare.”

Grant did one day escape and now she is an advocate combatting violence against Native women and girls. Recent studies found Native Hawaiians accounted for 67 percent of sex trafficking victims on the Island.

Last month Grant joined Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) at a roundtable highlighting the issue. Hirono recently pushed legislation through Congress to provide resources and programs for victims to access.

Now Grant is Hirono’s guest at tonight’s (Feb 7) State of the Union Address by President Biden.

“As a Native Hawaiian survivor of gender-based violence, Kalei Grant is working to help combat the crisis of violence against Native women and girls. I admire and appreciate her commitment to raising awareness and supporting other survivors, and I’m honored to have her as my guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address,” said Sen. Hirono in a statement to KHON2.

Grant currently works with the Department of the Attorney General in Hawai’i’s Missing Child Center.

Maui Now reports Grant received the National Child Protection Award from the US Department of Justice in recognition of her work.

RELATED: Former Navy man sentenced to 40 years for sex trafficking Native Hawaiians

“The public needs to know that sex trafficking and buying girls are a part of US military culture and practice in the Pacific…” Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of Hawaii’s State Commission on the Status of Women told AsAmNews in July. “By hiding the fact, whether intentional or accidental, that Green was military, it weakens the impact of this conviction because the military holds no responsibility.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Is it a coincidence that wherever there is a US military base across Asia or the Pacific, there are brothels and sex workers all around it? This is how Asians and Pacific Islanders are seen and treated. The US military needs to stop accepting and normalizing this. When there are no “customers”, sex trafficking stop.

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