Mr. Speaker, in Austin, Texas there is a beautiful community with pets, rooms for arts and music, and beds for 48 young girls. No, this is not a sorority house, rather it is a safe haven for victims of domestic sex trafficking.
Known as The Refuge Ranch, this community is designed to assist girls that have been rescued from the evils of sex trafficking and will open its doors this coming August. When the first girls arrive at the ranch, they will have access to a school, counselors, and different types of therapy including art, garden, and music therapy.
Not only will these girls find an abundance of resources on the grounds, they will also each be able to create a unique plan of restoration known as the Refuge Circle of Care. While volunteers have been working tirelessly to build these facilities and bring in furniture, girls all over America have been raising money for the cause.
One organization of passionate college- aged women known as ‘‘Pedal the Pacific’’ will be cycling 1,700 miles down the west coast to raise $250,000 for the ranch—more than double the $60,000 they raised last year. It is through people such as these that communities like the Ranch are able to be built and provide victims a home where they can heal.
Such spaces are necessary, as today in my home state of Texas there are almost 79,000 minors that are victims of sex trafficking. Yet, even though child sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in this country, there are not even 600 beds offered nationwide for child sex trafficking survivors to be able to recover long- term.
Organizations like Refuge Ranch have the right idea in creating more communities and offering more beds to victims of this horrific crime. When it opens in August, the Refuge Ranch will be the largest live-in rehabilitation facility for rescued victims of minor sex trafficking in the United States.
Those at the Refuge Ranch have the right idea and I am certain that they will provide 48 young girls with not just a safe place to sleep, but a home in which they can heal.
And that’s just the way it is.