Once I was walking in a crowded area and I felt a hand between my butt cheeks, so I looked behind me and I found a middle aged man grinning widely. I did not know how to react, as I was only 11. P.S we need this in Egypt, please!


Being destitute affects your whole wellbeing; your mind, body and soul. I found when I was destitute that I couldn’t plan my life. You feel useless and down. You are not steady, you become like a child.


I was destitute for 15 months when the Home Office refused my asylum case in 2009. There were many women, just like myself, who had nowhere to go, and we spent our nights in shelters. Sometimes those shelters are full, and we were forced to spend the night on the streets. One woman told me how she had been raped on the streets because she was sleeping rough. Some women go to Heathrow airport to sleep. Or they take a night bus, going around and around the streets of London. Some women become prostitutes to survive.


In Uganda I was active in opposition politics at a grassroots level: working in my village, helping women to know their rights and teaching them reading and writing. I was imprisoned twice. The horror that I experienced in there, you wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even your enemy. I was tortured, I was raped, I was burnt with cigarettes, I was cut with razors, electric shocks: all the horrible things you can think of to get information from someone. Eventually I escaped and came to England. It was scary but I’d been in this torture for some time, and I just wanted to be able to breathe fresh air again. I was refused asylum. It took 6 long years to fight my case through the courts until I was finally given leave to remain. I would like the Home Office to say sorry for getting it wrong and putting me through that long period of waiting; the anxiety and the fear were so terrible.


Speaking last week with a woman in Yarl’s Wood detention centre, when the guards – who are mostly men – knock on the door of their room, they don’t even wait for a response. She was just getting out of the shower.


my sisters and I taking turns to wash the dishes and make everyone beds while my brother has never do it, everytime time we complain with our mother we end up yelling and at the end nothing change and we still get to wash my brother´s dirty dishes and to do his bed


I was put in immigration detention at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. They searched me. I took off everything except my pants. After a couple of minutes a man came. He said, ‘I am going to take you to your room. Follow me.’ I was afraid of the security guards. The white shirts and the black trousers reminded me of violence. I felt nobody was safe in that place. I couldn’t wash, couldn’t move, couldn’t eat. When I had not eaten for some days a doctor came to my room. He looked shocked. He said, ‘She must go to hospital, she’s dehydrated.’ An hour later the ambulance came. I was so weak I couldn’t stand, but they still sent two security guards with me. The hospital doctor asked me what happened. But the security guards were sitting right by me. I couldn’t tell him anything. Day and night they stayed by my bed. Watching me. Even when I used the toilet they came with me, and told me to leave the door open. When I was detained the third time I was taken all the way to the airport. They came early in the morning. Two men, big men, huge. And two women. Four people, just for me. They said, ‘Miss Saron, we have been told you are a dangerous woman, so if you don’t go peacefully, you’ll get hurt. You’re going today, whether you like it or not.’ I was very weak. I didn’t even have the energy to speak, let alone fight them. When we were near the airport the escort got a call. He laughed. ‘You are so lucky, you’re going back.’ My lawyer put through a judicial review for me. Now I do have leave to remain but I can’t forget what I went through for all those years.


When they refused me asylum the money stopped and I didn’t have a place to live. Where did I sleep? Rough. If you sleep rough as a woman, men abuse you. They offer you a safe place, a warm place, but then it is like what the policeman did to me in prison.


In 2001 I was working for a newspaper in Ethiopia. One day I was reporting a student demonstration which became very violent. The police came and started shooting; 40 people died that day. I reported what I saw in the newspaper but the government television said the demonstration had dispersed peacefully. I was put in prison. Day after day they interrogated me. After four or five months a police officer came to the cell and took me to his office. He started asking questions. He smelled dirty, horrible. He started touching me; I tried to move away. He said he could do whatever he wanted. He told me to stop pushing him away. I started to cry, and he became even angrier. He began to slap me. I struggled with him, I tried to grab his hand. He became more and more violent. He said even if I shouted nobody could help me, so I’d better keep quiet. But I didn’t keep quiet. He hit my face and my nose started bleeding. I felt dizzy. He bit my breast. My breast also started to bleed. After that I felt faint. I couldn’t resist any more. He did what he did. He raped me.


During my second pregnancy, my husband beat me so badly that the baby was born so premature and weak, it died in my arms after seven days.