Prostitution in Hawaii

Japanese women in Hawaii in the 1800s worked in the plantations, but many of them also worked as prostitutes.

As Hawaii served as a hub for the whaling industry in the 1800s, many transient men came to Hawaii, and the prostitution industry in Hawaii boomed. But who did the boom benefit?

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union activist Ada Murcutt laments the sex trafficking of Japanese women in Hawaii:

“… Japanese girls are employed on the plantations. They have … long hours and small pay. The procurer visits the scene of their labors and assumes the role of ‘guide, philosopher and friend.’ He generally begins by [sympathizing] with them in their hard lot and ends by promising to get them easy, lucrative employment in the city. The poor girl, ignorant of his wily devices, gladly accepts his proffered assistance, the plantation hoe or rake is dropped, the city is sought, and the first link in a chain … is forged, and too late the girl awakes to the fact that her erstwhile benefactor is her master and she his slave.”

Read more in the editorial “Slavery Under the Stars of Stripes.”

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