Saudi woman flee­ing al­leged abuse heads to Canada

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - W RLD - —AP

Bangkok: An 18-year-old Saudi woman who said she was abused by her fam­ily and feared for her life if de­ported back home left Thai­land on Fri­day night for Canada, which has granted her asy­lum, of­fi­cials said.

The fast-mov­ing de­vel­op­ments capped an event­ful week for Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun. She fled her fam­ily while vis­it­ing Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she bar­ri­caded her­self in an air­port ho­tel to avoid de­por­ta­tion and grabbed global at­ten­tion by mount­ing a so­cial me­dia cam­paign for asy­lum.

Her case high­lighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Ara­bia, where sev­eral women flee­ing abuse by their fam­i­lies have been caught try­ing to seek asy­lum abroad in re­cent years and re­turned home. Hu­man rights ac­tivists say many sim­i­lar cases go un­re­ported. Alqu­nun is fly­ing to Toronto via Seoul, South Korea, ac­cord­ing to Thai im­mi­gra­tion Po­lice Chief Su­rachate Hak­parn. Alqu­nun tweeted two pic­tures from her plane seat. One with what ap­pears to be a glass of wine and her pass­port and an­other hold­ing her pass­port while on the plane with the hastag “I did it” and the emo­jis show­ing plane, hearts and wine glass.

Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau con­firmed his coun­try had granted her asy­lum. “That is some­thing that we are pleased to do be­cause Canada is a coun­try that un­der­stands how im­por­tant it is to stand up for hu­man rights and to stand up for woman’s rights around the world and I can con­firm that we have ac­cepted the UN’s re­quest,” Trudeau said.

Ra­haf Mo­hammed al-Qu­nun

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