18-year-old Saudi woman detained in Thailand arrives in her new home of Canada

Rahaf Alqunun grabbed international attention after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family. Rahaf Alqunun arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Rahaf’s journey began last week when she fled her home in Saudi Arabia and made it to Bangkok Thailand. At the airport, Alqunun told Thai officials that she was fleeing her allegedly abusive family, who was trying to force her into an arranged marriage. Her family denies any abuse. Thai officials were going to send her back, but she barricaded herself in a hotel room at the Bangkok airport and took to twitter for help pleading for asylum. When the United Nations stepped in, Canada stepped up.

Marvin Ryder from the Degroote School of Business says it was a surprising move that Canada’s foreign affairs minister was at the teens side.

“This liberal government under Justin Trudeau really takes women’s rights very seriously, they want to send a signal that it’s not just in Canada, that we are going to take a stand nationally and internationally”.

Alqunun was able to fast track to Canada because of the United Nations high commission on refugees while some fear the move on Canada’s part could further damage our country’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, Ryder says government officials need to know when to call each other out. While she was too drained to talk to media, Alqunun posted a message on twitter saying “I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saving my life. Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support”. There were other countries also trying to take in Alqunun, like Australia, however Canada’s process was much quicker, and enabled the young woman to be settled here sooner.


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