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Honolulu prostitution back on the rise

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Honolulu prostitution back on the rise

Source: Honolulu Advertiser


Increased prostitution activity on O'ahu has led to a spike in arrests and a call by some City Council members and Downtown residents for an expansion of the city's prostitution-free zones to include all of Chinatown.

Honolulu police said prostitution arrests rose in 2005 after declining in the previous three years. Police made 401 prostitution arrests last year, up 51.3 percent from 265 arrests in 2004.

The figures are significantly below activity in the early '90s, however. Arrests hit a 13-year high in 1993 with 620. The arrest numbers include alleged prostitutes and alleged "clients."

A July killing linked by police to prostitution heightened fears Downtown, said Lynne Matusow, a Honolulu Tower resident and vice chairwoman of the Downtown Honolulu Neighborhood Board.

"(Prostitution) is an issue in the condos, and people are just really upset over the whole thing. The killing is just the last straw," she said. "There are a lot of complaints about the prostitution on Kukui Street, and people are looking for solutions, but it is really hard to do something. It's going on 24/7. The kids are seeing it on the way to school, and people are just really upset."

Hank Taufaasau, owner of Hank's Cafe, said he sees prostitutes on Kukui Street all the time.

"We're talking all day. I'll get to work at quarter of 7 and I'll go to Safeway and I'll see them walking the street," Taufaasau said.

Since police have begun targeting certain areas near Hotel Street that were once gathering spots for prostitutes, he said, the problem has migrated mauka, away from most Chinatown businesses but right in the middle of residential areas.


Complaints from residents and business people have escalated to the point that City Council members and police have called for an expansion of the city's three prostitution-free zones, which were instituted in 2000.

The zones, which include Waikiki, Ke'eaumoku Street and part of Downtown Honolulu, allow officers to arrest prostitutes on sight if they previously have been arrested there, convicted and identified for the geographical restriction.

Each zone can encompass 3 square miles, police said. Prostitutes who return to the area after an arrest and conviction face a $500 fine, a mandatory 30-day jail term, or as much as six months probation.

If caught in the zone between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., a convicted prostitute could serve a 30-day sentence.

Supporters of the zones acknowledge that they force prostitutes to seek out new parts of town but insist that they are a tool needed to control the problem.

"It (prostitution) is absolutely, unequivocally one of those things you have to control," said City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle. "In general, I believe we're pro the idea of extending the prostitution-free zones provided they are done in a legal and constitutional manner."


Police Maj. Kevin Lima, head of the Honolulu Police Department's Narcotic/Vice Detail, said, "It's not the tool that will solve prostitution, but it is a tool. We realize residents in the area (Chinatown) are frustrated with the problem, and it appears the activity has increased since the beginning of the year."

City Councilmen Charles Djou and Rod Tam support the expansion of the zones, although both said that won't completely eradicate prostitution.

"It by no means will solve the problem; prostitution still goes on in Waikiki, but it certainly helps," said Djou. "How do you totally eradicate it from a society? Maybe we'll never, ever totally get rid of it, but I don't accept that we should throw up our hands and do nothing about it because I don't think there is such a thing as an acceptable level of criminal behavior."


In addition to the expansion of the zone, Tam hopes the Legislature will one day increase the penalty from a petty misdemeanor to a misdemeanor, which increases the possible jail term.

"Until the state Legislature comes out with stronger penalties, the problem will remain. What's a petty misdemeanor? It's nothing," said Tam. "You have to make it more undesirable."

Anyone engaged in prostitution

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Downtown residents are mobilizing in protest after a 24-year-old man was shot by a pimp July 1 near the corner of Nuuanu Avenue and Kukui Street. At left, two streetwalkers cross Kukui Street at Aala Street as residents go about their business.


A prostitute works a section of Kukui Street late at night.


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^It used to have area's that were legal but now they just "enforce" it in some area's more than others. However, Waikiki is supposed to be a "Prostitution Free Zone" but you can go there any night at 12-4:30/5am in the morning and see them walking the streets. They are most noticeable when the bars close. The hookers in Chinatown are just nasty for the most part because a lot of them are druggies and what have you. An interesting note about the Hookers in Waikiki is that many are multi-lingual sometimes you'll see them listen to what language someone is speaking and they'll start speaking it to start a conversation.

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