Saudi teen who fled family hopes her experience inspires others

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A Saudi teenager who fled her family for life as a refugee in Canada has said she expects her experience will inspire others.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, barricaded herself in a hotel to avoid deportation while in Kuwait. She used social media to inspire an army of supporters to back her claim for asylum.

Alqunun had initially hoped to get asylum from Australia, but was only accepted by Canada on Friday and arrived there to start her new life during the weekend.

Speaking to Australian Broadcasting Corp, Alqunun said she thought that the number of women fleeing from the Saudi administration and abuse will increase, especially since there is no system to stop them.

She said: “I’m sure that there will be a lot more women running away. I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free. I hope my story prompts a change to the law, especially as it’s been exposed to the world. This might be the agent for change,”

Alqunun  told Human Rights Watch that she had fled abuse from her family, alleging she had suffered beatings and death threats from male relatives who forced her to remain in her room for six months after she cut her hair.