Native Hawaiians hit by missing and murdered scourge
December 16, 2022
HONOLULU — The average profile of a missing child in Hawai'i: 15 years old, female, from the island of Oahu and Native Hawaiian. That's according to a report released Wednesday that says much more disaggregated racial and gender data is needed to combat the scourge of missing and murdered Native Hawaiian women.
Key findings of the report, the first of its kind released by a task force created by the state Legislature last year to investigate the issue, include that more than a quarter of missing girls in Hawai'i are Native Hawaiian and that members of the U.S. military play an outsized role in the sexual exploitation of children in the state.
Similar studies have shown that Indigenous women in Canada and the U.S. mainland are murdered or go missing at rates disproportionate to their size of the population. While the disturbing trend held for Native Hawaiian girls, a comparable, reliable statistic for Native Hawaiian women eluded the task force because of lacking data, said Nikki Cristobal, the report's principal investigator. The task force was created amid renewed calls for people to pay more attention to missing and killed Indigenous women and girls and other people of color after the 2021 disappearance of Gabby Petito, a White woman, triggered widespread national media coverage and extensive searches by law enforcement. Petito’s body was later found in Wyoming.