12 Jan 2019

Spotlight on Saudi Arabia's "guardianship" of women

From The Weekend, 8:12 am on 12 January 2019
January 7, 2019 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun (2nd-L) escorted by the Thai immigration officer and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials at the Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok.

Photo: AFP / Thai Immigration Bureau

Canada has accepted the asylum request of an 18-year-old Saudi Arabian woman, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, after she successfully resisted - through a Twitter campaign - being deported from Thailand back to the conservative kingdom. She had fled an abusive family situation at home, and the UNHCR ruled she was a refugee. The case has drawn attention to the plight of women in Saudi Arabia, many of whom are forced to live under a guardianship system where male relatives make all significant decisions for women. Providing analysis from Beirut is Heba Kanso, the Middle East correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who has been writing about the case.