Aubrie Reed of Mercy Gate Ministries spoke about human trafficking during April 1’s meeting of The Bandera County Republican Women at the Silver Sage Community Center.
Reed attributed Texas’ rank as second in the nation in human trafficking to the availability of easy travel between the cities of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
She noted that over half of the human trafficking in Texas involved women and children. Of that number, the majority of victims are girls from ages 15 through 17.
Reed said that Mercy Gate Ministries provided training and education for hotel workers, truck stop employees and gas station attendants to be able to recognize human trafficking in these corridors.
She contrasted urban trafficking, which draws from a pool of runaways, to rural trafficking which is family based.
According to Reed, trafficking of children is usually based on the need to secure rent, food or drugs for family members. She emphasized that this type of exploitation can be generational.
Reed also mentioned the initiative to raise the penalty for solicitation for sex from a misdemeanor to a felony currently that is currently pending before the legislature.
Mercy Gate Ministries provides services to victims of exploitation by offering mentoring services, counseling and limited residential placement.
After Reed’s presentation, President Carolyn Rutherford introduced Melanie Burns as the groups’ new Membership VP.
Vice President for Legislation Susan Junker detailed the work going on during the Texas Legislative session currently in progress and provided a handout on how to contact legislators.
In Old Business, the group reviewed the schedule for Bandera Market Days (first Saturday of the month) and for Lakehills Community Days, held the last Saturday of the month.
Dede Skoglund, First Vice President, reminded the group that the purchase of booth giveaway items had been completed. She also reviewed the progress of the Scholarship Committee and the upcoming spaghetti luncheon fundraiser.
In New Business, President Rutherford reiterated the need to secure a space for the headquarters prior to the 2022 election. The budget for the remainder of 2021 was reviewed.
The group voted to sponsor two juniors to attend Girls’ State.
Susan Real, Vice President of Campaign Activities, discussed an upcoming April 30 event from Charlie Kirk, who will speak and sell his book at the Flying L Ranch.