A Saudi teen who fled her family’s clutches in Bangkok has been granted asylum in Canada, and now she’s being protected by security guards because of threats she’s receiving on social media.
Rahaf Mohammed says she just wants to live a normal, independent life in Canada – and have the freedom to make her own decisions about her education, career and marriage. Currently, Saudi women have to get permission from a male guardian to travel or to get married.
Because Canada approved her asylum petition, she flew to Toronto.
In her first public comments on the issue, Mohammad said, “Today, I can proudly say that I am capable of making all of those decisions.”
She arrived in Canada in mid-January, a week after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees asked the country to grant her asylum. She’ll receive government-funded support for about a year, until she’s able to make her own way, and the organization that’s helping her resettle – COSTI – is trying to place her with members of her own family who can help her get access to healthcare and banking services.
Mohammed’s case drew worldwide attention when she tweeted that her passport was seized at a Bangkok airport. She’d traveled to Bangkok from Kuwait, where she’d slipped away from her family during a vacation. The 18-year-old intended to continue on to Australia, where she planned to ask for asylum, but Bangkok authorities prevented her from traveling farther. Mohammad said that she was once locked in a room for six months for cutting her hair, and she cited concerns that her family would kill her if she was forced to return to them.
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