Saudi Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun shakes hand with Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, the Thai chief of Immigration Police, before leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Jan. 7. (Immigration police via AP)© AP/AP
Saudi Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun shakes hand with Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, the Thai chief of Immigration Police, earlier than leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Jan. 7. (Immigration police through AP)

When Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun fled her household with plans to hunt asylum in Australia, she bumped into an impediment alongside the best way: a layover in Thailand.

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Upon her arrival in Bangkok, officers seized her passport and threatened to deport her again to her household. So the 18-year-old, who had traveled from Kuwait, locked herself in a resort room on the airport and started to inform her story on social media, claiming she needed to escape her abusive household and feared they’d kill her. When she heard information that her father had landed in Thailand to attempt to convey her house, she tweeted that it “fearful and scared” her.

Her calls for to fulfill with the U.N. refugee company labored, and her plight went viral. On Friday, Surachate Hakparn, who heads Thailand’s immigration bureau, stated “the story ends immediately.”

Ms. Rahaf goes to Canada as she needs,” he stated. As The Washington Submit reported, she left Thailand to be resettled in Canada, and Hakparn stated that when she departed, she had a “smiling face.”

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Alqunun’s battle to go away her household, at the same time as an grownup, drew consideration to Saudi Arabia’s restrictive male guardianship legal guidelines. As a lady, despite the fact that she is 18, it stays unlawful in Saudi Arabia for Alqunun to journey with out permission from a male guardian. Regardless of some reforms by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, equivalent to lifting a ban on feminine drivers, the guardianship legislation stays firmly in place in Saudi Arabia, and numerous feminine activists who led the requires modifications to the driving legislation stay in detention.

Human rights teams have lengthy criticized the Saudi guardianship legislation, which requires ladies to hunt permission from male guardians — which might be a husband, brother or son — to do sure duties. In its 2017-2018 report on Saudi Arabia, Amnesty Worldwide stated that along with journey restrictions, ladies in Saudi Arabia nonetheless wanted permission to marry, enroll in larger training or search employment. “In addition they remained inadequately protected in opposition to sexual and different types of violence,” the watchdog group stated.

Madawi Al-Rasheed, a visiting professor on the London Faculty of Economics, instructed The Submit that the whereas the guardianship legal guidelines have been considerably loosened not too long ago, they continue to be in place partly as a result of they assist the Saudi regime preserve males’s loyalty by billing themselves as protectors of ladies. However Alqunun’s case proves, she stated, that the state “has truly failed to guard ladies from this non-public patriarchy.”

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Ladies who’re abused of their houses could really feel “the one method out to finish their trauma is to go away the nation,” she stated.

Alqunun is one among numerous Saudi ladies and ladies who’ve fled house in hopes of in search of asylum overseas. Not all of them have been profitable.

In 2017, a Saudi lady who publicised her plans to hunt asylum was returned to Saudi Arabia after Philippine authorities detained her on the airport. Saudi Arabia known as the incident a “household matter,” and on the time, passengers instructed Reuters that they witnessed a screaming lady being carried onto a flight from Manila to Riyadh.

Alqunun’s case, which was probably helped by the eye it garnered on social media, has raised questions over whether or not it’s going to encourage different ladies to push again in opposition to the guardianship legislation, which Al-Rasheed known as “the final energy these males have over ladies.” Though Mohammed was initially billed as a reformer, Saudi Arabia has struggled with its public picture in latest months, after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

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On Thursday, Faisal Abbas, editor in chief of Arab Information, printed an op-ed saying that the male guardianship legislation ought to be abolished, claiming that Saudi Arabia has made vital progress for girls’s rights in recent times and that guardianship is discriminatory.

“If there may be any guardianship system that ought to be imposed within the Kingdom,” he wrote, “it ought to be imposed by the ministry on what its diplomats say and don’t say — notably the Saudi cost d’affaires in Thailand.”

He was referring to feedback made by the Saudi cost d’affaires in Thailand, who got here underneath scrutiny this week after a video circulated that includes him saying authorities ought to have confiscated Alqunun’s cellphone as an alternative of her passport. These feedback have been “the final word faux-pas,” Abbas wrote.

Photos: Womesn’s rights in Saudi Arabia – a timeline 

a girl looking at the camera: Girls have not always been able to go to school like these students in Riyadh. Enrollment at the first school for girls, Dar Al Hanan, began in 1955. The Riyadh College of Education, the first higher education institution for women, opened in 1970.


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