Thailand says it will safeguard Saudi woman
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 1/07/19, 11:58 am
Thailand on Monday allowed an 18-year-old Saudi woman fleeing her family to enter the country. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun told Human Rights Watch she fled her home due to abuse by her family, including beatings and confinement to her room for months. She told the BBC that she feared her family would kill her if she returned to them because she renounced Islam. Alqunun hoped to reach Australia and apply for asylum there, but Thai authorities in Bangkok confiscated her passport on a stopover, she wrote on Twitter on Saturday. They took her to a hotel room, where she barricaded herself in and pleaded on social media to talk to UN officials.
The UN refugee agency said it met with her Monday, and she left the hotel room for an undisclosed location. Thai immigration police chief Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said the country would provide her “safe shelter” while the UN processed her asylum claims. Her father arrived in Bangkok on Monday, a development that Alqunun said “worried and scared” her.
Women in Saudi Arabia cannot travel abroad or get married without consent from their male guardians. In 2017, authorities in the Philippines detained 24-year-old Dina Lasloom, a Saudi woman who was also fleeing to Australia. She was eventually sent back home at the request of Saudi diplomats.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.