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It was a close call. That’s how rescuers describe the escape of an 18-year-old Oregon girl.
She was told she had a job in Hawaii and was flown here with another woman.
That’s when things went bad.
The young woman was convinced to board a plane from Oregon to Hawaii with the promise of a job. When she got here, her belongings were taken from her and she was told she would have to be a prostitute.
They walk the streets of Waikiki almost every night – young people who have been coerced into human trafficking, the sex trade.
“We see a lot of young people get swooped up into what they think is a legitimate job and they don’t do enough research. Not that it’s their fault, they’re literally being lied to and once they meet the employer, they get forced or coerced into doing something they don’t want to do,” said Kathryn Xian with Pacific Alliance.
Many times, a young man or woman will answer an ad for employment on the internet. In this case, the contact was personal.
“What happened was she met a woman in Oregon who brought her here to Hawaii for a job. That woman took away all of her clothes, her luggage, her cell phone,” stated Jessica Rich, visitors assistance.
Once that happened, the teenager ran away from the woman, hid all night in a stairwell in Waikiki, then made her way to the Waikiki police sub-station.
“And thank goodness, the Waikiki police called us. They do a great job,” said Jessica Rich.
The Visitor Assistance Society of Hawaii or VASH helps more than two thousand visitors a year with problems. The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery focuses more on stories like this one.
“The more the community knows about services like ours, the better the situation is for the survivor, they feel like they have assistance, that they’re not isolated,” said Xian.
“In this particular case, with this young girl over the weekend, we were so fortunate. It was such a close call. We were able to get her an airline ticket,” said Rich.
VASH has a limited budget to help those in this circumstance. As for the woman who brought the teenager here from Oregon.
“The follow-up on this particular case – and again, it was a very close call. This young girl was very lucky. We contacted the FBI, The FBI human trafficking division is aware of the case, they’re looking into it. We do not take this lightly,” stated Rich.
KHON2 assured that the Visitors Aloha Society of Hawaii, and others involved, made certain the survivor was reunited with her family.