Canada, the Light of Middle East Marriage Runaway Girls

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Canada, the Light of Middle East Marriage Runaway Girls

2019-01-22 17:28:38 165 ℃


Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is an 18-year-old Saudi Arabian girl. She's a freshman in college. She's well-off, but she's not free.

Kuhn claimed that she suffered physical and mental abuse, family forced behavior, arranged arranged arranged marriages, and she endured oppression and violence every day.

On the last day of his trip to Kuwait with his family, Kuhn left the hotel room without their attention. She stole a flight from Kuwait to Australia. She holds a valid Australian visa and hopes to apply for refugees and flee home after arriving in Australia.

But the story is far from smooth. When the plane was transferred to Bangkok, his family had notified local officials one step ahead. After getting off the plane, officials of the Saudi Embassy confiscated Kuhn's passport, and officials of the Thai Immigration Bureau were ready to detain and repatriate her. Forced to do nothing, Kuhn locked himself in the hotel room at the airport. She blocked all the furniture behind the door in case the police broke in and took her away.

Kunon locked herself in the room in case people took her away/ Twitter

for the next six days, Kunon was trapped in the room. She applied for a Twitter account and asked for help by publishing her information frequently. A "self-rescue" campaign on social media began.

"I am the girl who fled to Thailand and I will face real danger if I am repatriated to Saudi Arabia." / Twitter

"I'm afraid that my family will kill me." / Twitter

"Get out of the room and find out if they are following me closely. She is checking when I will be sent back to Kuwait..." / Twitter

I'm not going to open the door. I need the help of the United Nations. uuuuuuuuu / Twitter

"I am Rahaf-Mohammed under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Agreement. I formally seek refugee status from any country that can protect me from being injured or killed by torture to my religion and family" / Twitter

Her Twitter eventually caused distress to the international community and the United Nations. The concern of UNHCR is that, under the coordination and protection of UNHCR, the Thai Government allowed her to stay in Bangkok. I want to get rid of oppression and depression. I want to be independent, "she said." I can't marry someone I love. I can't find a job without their permission."

If Kuhn is brought back to Saudi Arabia, she will be arrested and sentenced. But even without the suffering of punishment, women's life in Saudi Arabia is not easy. Under Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, women cannot travel alone without the consent of their male guardians, and Kuhn has no power to make basic decisions, such as obtaining a passport or traveling abroad. Saudi women's driving ban was officially lifted in 2018; from January 6 this year, Saudi Arabia will eliminate the practice of women being divorced without knowledge - courts need to notify them by text message.

June 2018, the Saudi women's driving ban was officially lifted. The picture shows one of the first Saudi women drivers on the road/Visual China

Although these measures seem to be part of the social reform promoted by Saudi Arabia and the integration with the world, the rights and interests of Saudi women are still worrying. Saudi Arabia ranks ninth from bottom among 149 countries in the 2018 annual report on gender equality.

Kunon's father did not live in the same city as his family, so he transferred his custody to her brother. Once, because she had cut her hair without permission, her brother kept her in the room for six months. A few months ago, she was beaten again for refusing to wear a headscarf. She made it very clear that she was dissatisfied with Islam. She was told that she could not learn what she wanted to learn, or that she could not work the way she wanted to. On Tuesday, her father arrived in Bangkok to try to persuade her to go back, but Kuhn refused to meet her. Her father denied the charges. Concerned about her father's assault, UNHCR subsequently took her out of the airport and placed her in a confidential place. The following day, accompanied by UNHCR staff, she went to the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. Australia accepted her application, but the trial was still ongoing until Friday. As Australia did not give a definite answer to her, there were more and more voices threatening her. For security reasons, the UNHCR Commissioner referred the case to Canada. Da, her visa was processed in the next few hours.

The Canadian Embassy in Thailand has been very active since the first day of the news, Ambassador Donna Pottie and her team. They actively contacted Thai government officials for information, put pressure on them and explained what would happen if she was sent back. However, the actions of the Canadian Embassy are under great diplomatic pressure.

In August 2018, facing a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said that his government would not stop condemning human rights abuses/Visual China

Canada and Saudi Arabia had very tense relations. Last August, the Canadian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for the immediate release of women's rights activists imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. In response, the Saudi government expelled the Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and asked him to leave the country within 24 hours. At the same time, the Saudi ambassador to Canada was recalled; all new trade and investment agreements with Canada were frozen; exchange programs and scholarships for studying abroad were suspended, and tens of thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada were ordered to return home or transfer to other countries. Salman Al-Ansari, president of SAPRAC, said in an interview: "The provocative and immature policies of the Canadian Foreign Ministry and the choice of Prime Minister Trudeau to confront Saudi Arabia, which is the core of the Arab Muslim world, may lead the Arab Muslim countries to re-examine their relations with Canada." However, on the morning of January 12, Kuhn finally set foot on Canadian land. Canadian Foreign Minister Friedland personally welcomed and said that helping women at risk is what we should do. She thanked Canadian diplomats, especially the officials of the Canadian Embassy in Thailand.

January 12, 2019, Saudi fugitive girl Kunon (second right) arrived at Toronto Airport, Canadian Foreign Minister Fred (first right) went to greet / Visual China

in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Kunon talked about those nights in Bangkok. She even wrote to her friends, who would publish it to the world if she disappeared. Because she was ready to end her life before her family took her away. "I'm afraid my family will find me and I may disappear. If I go back, my family will kill me." Then she said that her family had threatened to kill her, and that she was the property and slave of the family.

She said that she would continue to speak for women in Saudi Arabia in the hope that they would fight for their change. Although she knows that many women have fled Saudi Arabia, she does not encourage people to do so because it is risking their lives. There are also voices questioning whether it is reasonable for the Canadian government to accept Kuhn's application so quickly. David Chatterson, a former Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, commented: "This is a dangerous precedent. If the next time a girl or adult woman escapes from Saudi Arabia, is that the same thing to do?

Canada accepts tens of thousands of refugees every year, but few of them get as much attention and quickly pass asylum applications as Kuhn. Over 30,000 people have applied for refugees from the US-Canada border since 2017. Due to the surge in the number of refugee applicants in the past two years, the waiting time for the Canadian refugee application hearing has reached 19 months. Refugee applicants need to wait more than two years before they know whether they are allowed to stay in Canada.

Canadian Quebec refugee/visual China

UNHCR spokesman said that the situation of Kunong was a special case. Often, when a person is in danger of life, is seriously ill or involves violence against women or girls, UNHCR will expedite the placement of the person concerned on a case-by-case basis. As a government-funded refugee,

Kunong will receive government assistance for up to 12 months. Non-profit organizations have taken her to buy winter clothes, open bank accounts and help her find long-term stable housing. Kuhn also shared her new life on social media: enjoying bacon and eggs and Starbucks coffee. On Wednesday, Kuhn, wearing a dark dress and boots, made a public statement in Toronto thanking those who helped her. Kuhn expresses her expectations for her new life, and at present her first task is to learn English. She said she wanted to be independent and make her own decisions about education, work and marriage.

Kuhn's new life in Canada has begun, but if Kuhn did not receive timely assistance from a third country at that time, what will happen to her? I'm afraid all of us can't imagine. Lauren La Rose, spokesman for UNHCR

, pointed out that Kunong's situation highlighted the need for more interventions around the world in this regard. "Canada has always been a great ally and leader in this field. We still need to take more measures so that women and girls or any vulnerable person can find a safe third country for resettlement.

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Xu Ningchen

Responsible Editor | Zhu Kai

Operating Editor | Jia Zhenzhen

Layout Editor | Liu Weiqing

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