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Taking action against human trafficking

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i County Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Council Mmember Addison Bulosan lost little time opening their bags of red sand from the Red Sand Project, finding cracks around the Historic County Building parking lot to fill on Friday.

The Red Sand Project is a participatory artwork created by Molly Gochman that uses sidewalk interventions and earthwork installations to create opportunities for people to question, connect and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation, states its website.

Rapozo and Bulosan had earlier delivered proclamations, one from the Kaua‘i County Council and one from the Office of the Mayor, announcing May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Two Spirit Awareness Day. The Red Sand Project is a social media campaign to bring greater awareness to MMIWG2S since the movement gained momentum in 2017.

Today, 40.3 million people are enslaved, is the message printed on back of the package of the eco-friendly red sand.

“The most vulnerable people in our communities carry the greatest risk of losing their freedom, and the process of filling sidewalk cracks with sand requires you to be mindful of something that is usually
overlooked,” the sand directions read. “The simple act of placing sand in a crack, or posting a photo on social media, may seem inconsequential, but small actions build on each other to make transformational change.”

Rapozo and Bulosan were joined by Nikki Cristobal, a researcher with MMIWG2S, the YWCA of Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women, and avid social media fan Edie Ignacio Neumiller.

Also in attendance were Bulosan’s parents, Charlmaine and Adams Bulosan, Abigail Echo-Hawk from Honolulu, and other community members, who were stooped over and filling cracks with red sand on late Friday afternoon.

According to a study by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women in 2022, more than one-quarter of missing girls in Hawai‘i are Native Hawaiian. The report discovered that the average profile of a missing child in Hawai‘i is a 15-year-old Native Hawaiian girl.

This first MMIWG2S report was released in Hawai‘i in 2022 and is part of an international movement that stands in solidarity with reducing violence against indigenous people locally and globally.

The groups cite a need for more data about MMIWG2S to be gathered and shared in Hawai‘i, and more awareness generated to create community-informed solutions to address the MMIWG2S crisis the groups describe as “the invisible crisis.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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