Many of us are lucky enough to have all that we could want and need in the very place that we were born and raised. Even if we can't find want we want in our place of birth, we have access to the resources that allow us to jump on a plane and start a brand spanking new life in pastures new.
A lot of people have decided that the UK is the best place for them and figures show that approximately 503,000 people came to live in the UK from 2012 to 2013 and contrary to what the media and certain politicians might want you to believe, most of these people were able to obtain the right documents and immigrate without a hint of trouble. But for far too many of us, getting up and starting a new life for ourselves and for our families means having to find creative ways of entering a new land, often out of desperation fleeing domestic violence, rape, abuse, poverty and discrimination, not to mention those who are trafficked and forced here through no fault of their own. Many of these immigrants or foreign nationals are women, women who still have to be mothers, wives, sisters and daughters in a world not yet their own.
A countless number of these women are able to live their lives under the radar and undetected, taking low paying jobs and living each day as it comes in fear. For some, finding themselves on the wrong side of the law is often a conduit to survival. 17% of our prison population is female migrants, most of whom are charged and locked up for non violent offences. These women's offences are usually for what we call crimes of poverty, forced drug importation, petty theft and employment without or in false documentation.
These women also often commit immigration offences including: attempting to enter the UK without valid documentation or using false documents, those who have been living here as illegal immigrants, overstayers or failed asylum seekers, and the majority who are arrested while trying to actually leave the UK to return home and find themselves being sentenced to imprisonment before finally being deported.
For many of the women who take these chances for better work or education, prison, or sometimes detention centres, can be a terrifying ordeal. With a lack of family presence and a very likely language and culture barrier, getting the right advice or support can be almost impossible for foreign national women, paired with the fact that a number of these women come from countries where they have experienced abuse by those in authority and simply do not know who to trust. It is circumstances like these which make the work that charities like Hibiscus Initiatives do so significant.
Immigration is not something that can be solved over night but while we are trying to come up with a solution we ought to keep in mind that old Native American proverb 'Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins' - or in this case, her moccasins.