A distinction without a difference

Roger Kraft? Trafficked vs. not trafficked: It’s a distinction without a difference, and it happens here in Kona, and the State of Hawaii

Why should it matter here in Kona? Because there are places, here in the new industrial area, you can get a “happy ending.” You can go online, and in minutes get an escort. The internet has made the world of sex trafficking prostitutes readily accessible, and it’s happening right here in our town.

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Most girls that were pushed into prostitution as teens, and know nothing else, and stay in it to feed a drug addiction, are trapped in an inherently violent cycle. Then comes the gals from a poor country, that have been brought to America, and now forced to work in these massage parlors. Most of their money is taken by the “mamasan” or house pimp, and whatever money is left over, is normally sent home to these gals’ poor families. Again, better than what she had back home, but she is supporting her family.

Trafficked, forced, but once here, where can she go if she wants to leave? To treat women who worked at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where Kraft was allegedly a customer, as somehow a special case in the world of paid sex, is to lean on a distinction without a difference. Almost all prostitutes don’t want to be doing it, whether they are trafficked, or find themselves exploited because of an addiction or other vulnerabilities such as homelessness and poverty. The vast majority were sexually assaulted as children and meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The idea that women who do this make a choice is nonsense, the “Pretty Woman” fantasy; it’s only a choice if you have choices. The real choice, lies not with the seller, but with the buyer. The trafficker wouldn’t have been selling them if there wasn’t a buyer. You might think you weren’t paying for a trafficking victim. Why does that matter? Money doesn’t equal consent. It is unwanted sex. You’re putting your wants above a very damaged human being.

The criminal justice system is typically disposed to treat prostitutes as criminals, and their customers as misguided consumers. Men or “Johns” are usually sent to a four-hour session. So, the women go to jail; men go to class.

Start videoing these places, or doing random crack downs, or soon it could be your own teen who runs away, gets into drugs, and is now one of these girls who gets trafficked into the world of sex in our Aloha State. Start putting the names of the “Johns” that get busted in the paper, report them to their human resources department, and that should put an end to the business, just like when your name goes in the paper for a DUI.

No customer, no business, and no need to force some gal to do something that she doesn’t want to do, but is forced into period. Any person that has to lower themselves to pay for sexual services with mostly under-aged girls is disgusting, and should be arrested, lose his job and position, not just the poor girls that get arrested. It shouldn’t be one-sided. We all should have no patience for people who make excuses for men who pay for sex, while they have no, little, or only conditional regard for those on the other end of the transaction.

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Go after the “Johns,” then there will be no transactions, hence no sex trafficking into Hawaii.

Margo Nonaka is a resident of Holualoa.