The Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada last week has spoken for the first time since her arrival to her new home.
Rahaf Mohammed, who landed in Toronto over the weekend, said that she was not treated respectfully by her family, and that in Saudi Arabia, women can’t be independent. Many who try to flee or think of escaping would risk persecution.
“I am one of the lucky ones,” said the 18-year-old. “I know that there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape or who could not do anything to change their reality.”
Mohammed said that when she heard that Canada was going to be her new home, she felt her stress melt away.
The teen’s escape from her home was widely known after she was stopped at an airport in Bangkok by Thai immigration officials, who took away her passport.
She then barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in an attempt to prevent being deported back to her family and began live-Tweeting her situation to the world.
The news began circulating and eventually Phil Robertson, the Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted out that Mohammed needed access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC). He also began working on the case.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada has officially granted her asylum.
In her statement, Mohammed thanks the Government of Canada, and everyone who has helped her find a safe home. She said she has also been offered support for housing, and friendship.
With her new life, Mohammed says she wants to be independent, travel, have a career, and make her own decisions, including when she should marry.
“Today, I can proudly say that I am capable of making all of those decisions.”
But, also as part of her new life, she plans to live a “normal private life” like any other woman in Canada, and said she would no longer be doing any media interviews.
Mohammed did promise to continue working to support freedom for women.
“Today and for years to come, I will work in support of freedom for women around the world,” she said. “The same freedom I experienced on the first day I arrived in Canada.”