A young Saudi woman who arrived in Canada after a dramatic escape via Thailand has said she hopes her story encourages other women to break free from the stifling controls imposed on them by the conservative kingdom.
Rahaf al-Qunun’s desperate bid for freedom gripped the world when she used social media to prevent her repatriation from Bangkok airport to Saudi Arabia where she alleged she would be killed for fleeing her abusive family.
She was offered asylum by Canada after her pleas for international help sparked a media frenzy and prompted diplomats in Bangkok to intervene with support for her cause.
“I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free,” the 18-year-old told Australia’s ABC news channel, in her first interview since arriving on Canadian soil.
She added that she hoped her successful escape would also prompt the reform of Saudi Arabia’s draconian “guardianship” laws that restrict women’s freedoms, and rights to travel and work.