Ladies’s rights in Saudi Arabia: ‘I escaped to hunt a greater life’


Image of Salwa given to the BBCPicture copyright

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Salwa, 24, ran away from her household eight months in the past and claimed asylum in Canada

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It is a dramatic story that has introduced the restrictions confronted by ladies in Saudi Arabia again into the highlight.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, garnered international consideration final week after she locked herself into her resort room and refused to fly again house.

She was fleeing her household in Saudi Arabia and, after instigating a high-profile Twitter marketing campaign, was granted asylum in Canada.

As the talk about ladies’s rights within the nation continues, one other younger girl who fled Saudi Arabia for Canada has advised her story to the BBC.

Salwa, 24, ran away together with her 19-year-old sister eight months in the past and now lives in Montreal. This, in her personal phrases, is her story.

The preparation

We had been planning to depart for roughly six years, however we would have liked a passport and a nationwide ID card to take action.

I wanted the consent of my guardian to get these paperwork. (Ladies in Saudi Arabia are required to acquire a male family member’s approval for a lot of issues).

Luckily, I had a nationwide ID card already as a result of my household agreed to provide me one whereas I used to be finding out at college.

I additionally had a passport as a result of I wanted one to sit down an English language examination two years in the past.

However my household took it away from me. By some means, I wanted to get it again.

I stole the keys to my brother’s home after which went to the shop to get a duplicate of them minimize. I could not go away the home with out their consent, however I sneaked out whereas they have been sleeping.

It was very dangerous as a result of if I had been caught then they’d have damage me.

As soon as I had the keys I managed to pay money for my passport, my sister’s passport, and I additionally took my father’s telephone whereas he was sleeping.

Utilizing this, I logged into his account on the inside ministry’s web site and altered his registered telephone quantity to my quantity.

I additionally used his account to provide us each consent to depart the nation.

The escape

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The pair ran away from house and flew to Germany from King Khalid Worldwide Airport

We left at evening whereas everybody was sleeping. It was very, very, nerve-racking.

We won’t drive so we referred to as a taxi. Luckily, nearly the entire taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia are from overseas international locations so that they did not view us travelling alone as unusual.

We headed for King Khalid Worldwide Airport close to Riyadh. If anybody had seen what we have been doing then I feel we might have been killed.

For the final yr of my training I used to be working in a hospital and saved up sufficient cash to purchase the airplane tickets and a transit visa for Germany. I additionally had cash from unemployment advantages that I had saved.

I managed to board the flight to Germany with my sister. It was the primary time I had ever been on a airplane and it was superb. I felt completely satisfied, I felt fearful, I felt every part.

My father referred to as the police when he realised we weren’t at house, however by that point it was too late.

As a result of I had modified the telephone quantity on his inside ministry account, when the authorities tried to name him they really referred to as me.

Once I landed, I might even obtained a message from the police that was meant for my father.

The arrival

There isn’t any life in Saudi Arabia. I simply went to the college then moved again house and did nothing all day.

They damage me, and advised me dangerous issues like males are superior. I used to be pressured to hope and quick at Ramadan as effectively.

Once I arrived in Germany I went to authorized assist to discover a lawyer for my asylum declare. I crammed out some varieties and advised them my story.

I selected Canada as a result of it has an excellent fame for human rights. I adopted the information in regards to the Syrian refugees being resettled there and determined it was one of the best place for me.

My declare was accepted, and once I landed in Toronto I noticed the Canadian flag on the airport and simply felt this superb sense of accomplishment.

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I am in Montreal right this moment with my sister and there isn’t any stress. Nobody forces me to do something right here.

They may have more cash in Saudi Arabia however right here it is higher as a result of once I wish to go away my residence I can simply go away. I do not want consent. I simply go outdoors.

It makes me really feel actually, actually, completely satisfied. I really feel like I’m free. I simply put on what I wish to put on.

I really like the colors within the autumn and the snow right here. I am studying French but it surely’s so tough! I am additionally studying to trip a bicycle and I am attempting to learn to swim and ice skate.

I really feel like I am truly doing one thing with my life.

I haven’t got any contact with my household, however I feel that is good for me and for them. I really feel like that is my house now. It is higher right here.

As advised to the BBC’s Gareth Evans and Exterior Supply on World Service radio.

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