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16 Jan, 2019 14:00

Exodus brewing: Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada calls on others to follow her example and flee

Exodus brewing: Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada calls on others to follow her example and flee

18-year-old Rahaf al-Qunun, who was granted asylum after fleeing her family and barricading herself in a hotel room, hopes that her story encourages other Saudi women – and many are apparently starting to listen.

The young woman who fled her parent's custody last week gave her first TV interview on Tuesday, where she highlighted the “abuse and oppression” Saudi women face as a result of the country’s strict laws and customs.

Women can’t even travel on their own, they’re treated like children even if they’re 50 or 60 years-old, they aren’t free or equal to their male counter-parts,” Rahaf lamented.

She believes she is not the only woman fleeing the Kingdom and hopes her example encourages others to be “brave and free,” perhaps even serving as a catalyst for broad social change. Her words come days after media reports surfaced showing that a growing number of women are threatening exodus from Saudi Arabia in opposition to the country’s guardianship laws.

Also on rt.com Saudi teen who fled from family & dramatically self-barricaded in Thailand gets UN refugee status

According to the reports, a hashtag which translates to “remove the guardianship system or we’ll all migrate,” began trending on Twitter in Saudi Arabia last week. Some users explicitly cited Rahaf’s example as their inspiration.

The battle over the “change” Rahaf al-Qunun hopes to inspire is already being waged on social media, where the case has sparked both fierce animosity and hope. Her spokesperson has even alleged that Rahaf has received open threats online.

The media savvy teen secured her escape by using Twitter to signal boost her cries for help while holed-up in a Thai hotel. Stripped of her passport by a Saudi diplomat in Thailand, the UN Refugee Agency stepped in and recommended her for asylum.

A Saudi official testified to the effectiveness of Rahaf’s social media use in a meeting with Thai immigration officials, telling the diplomat: “I wish you had taken her phone, it would have been better than [taking] her passport.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially offered her asylum last Friday as the story reached peak media-frenzy, the high-profile case promising not to be the last of its kind.

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