The journey for HerSpace began in 2009 when our founder, Emily Hanscamp, visited the Kamathipura red light area in Mumbai, India. Deeply impacted by the exploitation, torture and trauma facing these women, Emily arrived back in Australia and reached out to see what could be done. Bake sales and car washes helped to raise enough money to send back to the Kamathipura women and in the following years, Asha Global was born.
From 2012 -2014, Asha Global funded a full time staff coordinator at Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) in Mumbai. Each day the centre provided over 300 daughters of trafficked women with nutritious food, medical support, school material and tutoring. The mission of AAWC is to help daughters born into brothels have an alternative life and career outside of sex work.
After years of working directly with social workers and counsellors in Mumbai, it became clear to the Asha leadership that psychological and emotional barriers were some of the biggest challenges women faced when trying to leave the sex trade.
Women and girls in sexual exploitation live in a constant state of stress and fear, and thinking beyond surviving today becomes overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Yet there were few, if any, mental health and psychological services to address their needs. We were further shocked to realise that even in Australia, minimal health services are available to women suffering trauma due to sexual exploitation.
In 2014, Asha began focusing on pioneering the HerSpace mental health program for girls and women in Australia. HerSpace is a place where all women and girls who have survived sexual exploitation can access mental health support sensitive to their experiences, tailored to address trauma impacts and support their pathways to healing and recovery.
It is our hope that the model developed and refined in Australia can be expanded throughout the world and adapted to the local context, culture and language to help women and girls seeks the resources needed to choose their own direction.
See more about the HerSpace program operating in Melbourne.
If you are curious about our past or present operations, we encourage you to read our annual reports.