18- Year Old Saudi Teen Flees Home Due To Abuse


Priscila Chavez, Reporter

     It may seem like here in America women have a lot of rights but, sometimes in different places its the exact opposite. Women in other countries tend to have little to no rights based on where they live. For instance, Saudi Arabia is one the world’s strictest country when it comes to views and beliefs on religion. Even death is acceptable if one disobeys.

     As a result, events like this kept leading up to this, the abuse was enough for 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun. She ran away from her family from Saudi Arabia because of the mistreatment and abuse she was getting. Qunun said her elder brother would often beat for her beliefs on Islam. She also mentioned her dad and her brother would abuse her physically and psychologically.

     “It makes me very upset to know that there are women out there who fear their lives every day and get treated so poorly. I don’t think I would have been able to last as some others do,” said Dalila Medina (‘19).

     In this case this a normal life for almost every woman in Saudi Arabia. The males in the family are considered to be charge and have the power to control the female relatives. They get to make decisions for them such as marriage, divorce, travel, and whether or not she can get a job.

     Since a lot of women tend to get treated the same way, some of them may decide to flee from their homelands and try to go to another country or even go as far as going to an asylum due to fear of being deported back to their country. If they do get deported back by immigration officials some women beg to stay because they will be punished by their family for trying to escape their lives. If it is extreme, death is an option. Which is the situation with Qunun, she feared her life, returning home because of the consequences she had waiting for her.

     Qunun was planning on flying to Australia to seek asylum but last minute decision resulted in fleeing to Thailand. She also tweeted on her personal twitter account @rahaf84427714 that she’d be willing to go to asylums in Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It was obvious that she was desperate and calling for a cry for help. With the help of her smartphone, she well used the Twitter platform and made her story blow up worldwide which got the attention of supporters trying to beg officials to not send her back home to Kuwait.

       When Qunun landed she was stopped by Saudi embassy officials and got her passport confiscated. The officials then tried to get her to sign a piece of paper but she refused then was escorted to a hotel. She then had a meeting with Thai immigration officials and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and escorted out of the hotel with UNHCR staff.

     “Women are probably the most underwhelmed people on the planet, it’s heartbreaking to hear that these women don’t have a voice and can’t speak for themselves, so we should be their voices,” said Yesenia Vizguerra (‘20).

     The next step for Qunun could be very difficult to make and wouldn’t be quick since her family has not responded to any to the claims of abuse. For now, Qunun gets to stay in Thailand until further notice.