The Women Fleeing Saudi Arabia
An 18-Year Old Marks the Beginning of a Revolution in Saudi Arabia when she fled the country in terror of her death.
Women in Saudi Arabia are demanding equal rights as that of men in the country and are threatening to follow the footsteps of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who fled the country after being ill-treated by her family.
Rahaf is a Saudi woman, who has drawn the world’s attention by barricading herself in a Thai hotel. She sent out a series of tweets from the hotel, gathering world’s attention andthe first tweet with the hashtag #SaveRahaf was then sent out. She refused to return her country and said that she had renounced Islam, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. The tweets continued to gain momentum and with the intervention of UNHCR, she has been granted asylum by Canada. Qunun’s father, who is a governor in Saudi Arabia, and brother tried to bring her back with them but after getting the news of her successful asylum in Canada, the family released a statement saying they had disowned Qunun and described her as “mentally unstable”.
Inspired by the story of 18-year-old Rahaf, women in Saudi Arabia have been demanding equal rights and other reforms, specifically to put an end to the male-dominated guardianship rule in Saudi Arabia. This has led to the onset of a revolution in the country.
What is this Male-Dominated Guardianship System?
This system which is prevalent in the country makes it mandatory for every female to have a”Wali” (a Male member) as a Guardian, who is generally the father, brother or the husband of the women. The women mandatorily need the consent of the guardian for every major activity, be it traveling, studying, marriage, divorce, entering into a contract and the list goes on. This makes nearly impossible for them to report the cases of any harassment within the family or domestic violence with them.
There has been an outcry among the women of the country, taking the assistance of social media and has threatened to emigrate if their demands aren’t fulfilled. An Arabic language hashtag that roughly translates as “remove the guardianship system or we’ll all migrate” has trended on social media in Saudi Arabia. “Mark my words; [Rahaf] is going to start a revolution in Saudi Arabia,” an Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy said on a videoposted to Twitter on Jan. 7, adding that the guardianship system is “the foundation of patriarchy in Saudi Arabia.”
In a recent interview after getting the asylum in Canada the 18-year-old said, “I think thatthe number of women fleeing from the Saudi administration and abuse will increase,especially since there is no system to stop them,” said Qunun. “I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free.”
“I hope my story prompts a change to the laws, especially as it’s been exposed to the world”, she added.
The wave of protest that has been initiated by the teen, we hope it brings about the positive change in the country’s law and reaches to a number of women, who are still the victims of the patriarchal system.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Shreya Kohli, our intern.