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Clients are usually men with money, some military, some tourists, Xian says.

Many come from Asia or mainland United States, but there are local clients as well.

After a few months of work in the city, she says, the girls are shipped to their next destination, often to major US cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, Dallas, New York or Washington DC.

Hawaii's central placement in the Pacific sex trade circuit has cast a shadow over the islands, Xian says.

A failure to help victims One of the most frustrating things for Xian is what happens to the victims who manage to escape.

Instead of being treated like survivors of rape and psychological abuse, they are put in the difficult position of having to give evidence against their abusers and face grave consequences, or face criminal charges themselves, Xian explains. They fear their traffickers, who have sometimes controlled them for years," she says. Hawaii's record in dealing with the issue is erratic, activists say.

There are also girls from Russia and parts of Eastern Europe.

"There are about 150 brothels on Oahu alone that we know about [not including those in private homes].Deep roots But it has been this way for almost two centuries, she adds, telling the story of the first case she knows of from 1825, when American whalers trafficked a young girl. Xian believes that the state's location and its popularity with tourists makes it the ideal trafficking corridor."In the vernacular of human trafficking, Hawaii is a source, destination and transit location," says Nicholas Sensley, a retired California police chief and a global expert on sex trafficking.A home-grown victim Jessica Munoz, a nurse practitioner and anti-trafficking activist, founded Ho'ola Na Pua, a non-profit organisation that works with girls trafficked from Hawaii.She shares the story of one who was lured into prostitution four years ago, when she was 14.

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