Hirono invites Native Hawaiian trafficking survivor leader as guest at State of the Union
US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) has invited Kalei Grant, a Native Hawaiian trafficking survivor leader who now advocates for other survivors of sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence, to be her guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address.
Last month, Kalei participated in a roundtable discussion—convened by Senator Hirono—with Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence and organizations that support them. The roundtable followed passage of Senator Hirono’s bill to allow Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence to access critical programs and resources provided by Congress through the Violence Against Women Act.
“As a Native Hawaiian survivor of gender-based violence, Kalei Grant is working to help combat the crisis of violence against Native women and girls,” said Senator Hirono. “I admire and appreciate her commitment to raising awareness and supporting other survivors, and I’m honored to have her as my guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address. Last year, we made important progress by passing my bill to finally enable Native Hawaiian organizations to use funds from the Violence Against Women Act to support Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration, my colleagues in Congress, and advocates like Kalei to build on this success and advance justice for Native Hawaiian women and girls.”
Kalei Grant is a survivor of domestic sex trafficking. She was trafficked in Hawaiʻi, where she was born and raised. After nearly two years of being held against her will, she escaped from her trafficker. When she healed, she turned back to help others trapped in commercial sexual exploitation. She now works for the Department of the Attorney General in Hawaiʻi’s Missing Child Center.
In 2021, she received the National Child Protection Award from the US Department of Justice in recognition of her efforts in Operation Shine the Light, a cooperative effort between Missing Child Center-Hawaiʻi; federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and four nonprofit organizations.
Senator Hirono has been a vocal advocate for the Native Hawaiian community and efforts to combat violence against Native Hawaiians. In December, President Biden signed into law legislation introduced by Senator Hirono to allow Native Hawaiian survivors of gender-based violence to access critical programs and resources provided by Congress through the Violence Against Women Act. Last August, she pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray to do more to protect the Native Hawaiian community from sexual exploitation at a full Judiciary Committee hearing and emphasized the need for the FBI to include the Native Hawaiian community in its efforts to address the missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis and violence against Native communities. Senator Hirono also joined a resolution designating May 5th as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.