Toronto: Risking her life, Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled the kingdom after she was physically and mentally abused by her family since the age of 16. She was granted asylum in Canada.
Speaking to the media after reaching Toronto on Saturday, the 18-year-old hoped her story would encourage other Saudi women to be “brave and free”. She narrated the mistreatment by her family.
While visiting Kuwait with her family last week, Rahaf fled to Thailand. Her case drew international attention on social media after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room after Thai authorities threatened to deport her and live-tweeted her desperate attempt to flee.
Rahaf told that she was beaten up for not praying and locked in the house for six months for cutting her hair short. She added that she was exposed to physical violence, persecution, oppression, threats to be killed.
Mohammed claimed that “We are treated as an object, like a slave. We could not make decisions about what we want.” She added, “I felt that I could not achieve my dreams that I wanted as long as I was still living in Saudi Arabia.”
Accepting a request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take in Mohammed, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau On Friday announced that Canada would grant asylum to Rahaf. She was welcomed by Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at Toronto’s airport on Saturday.
Mohammed told Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she hopes that her story that has garnered international attention will be a catalyst for change in Saudi Arabia. She added, “I think the number of women fleeing from the Saudi administration and abuse will increase, especially since there is no system to stop them.”