"Rahaf is clearly not alone in feeling that her basic rights are violated in Saudi Arabia; there are untold thousands of women who feel the same sense of desperation that drove Rahaf to flee her family. Even Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has acknowledged that the country needs to improve in the area of women's rights. If Rahaf is deported, the hopes of women throughout the kingdom, and indeed, the Gulf, will be crushed."
"When someone makes very serious allegations of abuse, torture, or a threat to their life; authorities have to take it at face value and allow the proper protocols of investigation to occur. It has been reported that Rahaf had a Visa to go to Australia, and intended to apply for asylum; it was due to Saudi intervention that she has not made it. It is unacceptable that the government from which someone is fleeing be permitted to interfere with their asylum request; and totally against diplomatic norms for a third country to cooperate in hindering such a process." Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai
Radha Stirling talks Gulf policy on women’s rights after prominent Sheikha Latifa & Rahaf Alqunun escapes
"During the last few years there has been news about improvements in the situation of women in Saudi-Arabia, for example granting women the right to drive. However, the recent escape of young Saudi woman Rahaf al-Qunun and the escape attempt of Princess Latifa from Dubai have attracted extensive press attention.
"First it is important to understand that the male guardianship system is largely not codified in law but is a prevailing social attitude which is then reinforced by legal and administrative decisions in both the public and private sector. So, while there have been some regulatory improvements, such as the allowance of women to enter the workforce without the permission of a male guardian; the society still accepts for a male relative to prohibit a woman from working, and there is no law preventing him from doing so. This deeply ingrained patriarchal attitude has not moved an inch over the past several years.
"While Saudi Arabia is certainly the most legally restrictive of the rights of women, it would be a mistake to think that the same attitude does not permeate every country in the Gulf. Even though leaders like Mohammed bin Salman have promised incremental reforms, without confronting the patriarchal perspective itself, any freedoms legally granted to women can still be overruled by male relatives, and the state will not intervene. The governments in the Gulf are going to have to take an unequivocal stance on women’s equality and freedoms equivalent to men, and institute legislation that explicitly prohibits their forced subordination to a male relative." Full article here