BANTEAY SREI – OUR BEGINNINGS
In 2004, health counselors, social workers and educators from Asian Health Services, the East Bay Asian Youth Center and Oakland Unified School District, recognized a rising trend of sexual exploitation and recruitment amongst Southeast Asian women and girls in Oakland. After seeking resources and concluding that the only existing resources to respond to the needs of this population were situated in juvenile hall, Banteay Srei was formed. Banteay Srei was created in order to meet the needs of this specific population with a culturally relevant approach.
Banteay Srei is a safe space for young Southeast Asian and Asian American women, that promotessexual health education, community building activities and leadership development to foster cultural pride, and self-determination for women at-risk of or suffering from sexual exploitation. Banteay Srei provides social, peer and intergenerational support, healing arts, reproductive health education, life skills-building and leadership development. The name Banteay Srei comes from an ancient temple in Cambodia which means “the women’s temple”- built to honor female deities and representing strength, unity, and safety. This name was chosen to inspire a space that would be created to honor women and provide tools for self-empowerment.