Saudi Teen Who Fled Her Family Speaks of Her Ordeal

January 15, 2019 Updated: January 15, 2019

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun said she felt “born again” on Jan. 14 when she arrived in Canada after being granted asylum.

Qunun, 18, grabbed international attention last week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies abusing her. Qunun refused to meet her father and brother, who arrived in Bangkok to try to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees granted her refugee status, and Canada agreed to take her in.

Qunun’s case has drawn global attention to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male “guardian” in order to travel, something rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

Speaking with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Qunun hoped that her story would act as an agent of change and encourage other women in Saudi Arabia.