Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada to speak publicly in Toronto today

Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada to speak publicly in Toronto today

A Saudi teenager who fled her native country and was recently accepted into Canada has been given a bodyguard amid fears for her safety.

'I know there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape or who could not do anything to change their reality'.

She pointed to the case of Dina Ali Lasloom, another Saudi woman who left her family in Kuwait in 2017 but was stopped while in transit in the Philippines.

"I had no say in any of this".

She said that when she learned she had been granted asylum in Canada, the 'stress I felt over the last week melted away'. "I had no say in any of this", she said. As soon as she landed in Toronto, she was whisked to the mall to get outfitted in winter clothing and a mobile phone, said Mario Calla, the organization's executive director.

On Tuesday, she made a public statement in Canada, saying she wants to work in support of freedom for women around the world for years to come.

Mario Calla, the executive director at (COSTI), said Mohammed now has private security with her at all times following the multiple death threats she has received on social media.

Mohammed told Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she hopes that her story that has garnered worldwide attention will be a catalyst for change in Saudi Arabia.

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"I felt free and it was like I was born again", she told the ABC, in a preview of the story that will air later this week.

In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada's Foreign Ministry tweeted support for women's right activists who had been arrested.

After her plans to seek asylum in Australia fell apart and she feared deportation back to Saudi Arabia, UNHCR intervened and granted her refugee status.

Her situation has highlighted the issue of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years and returned home. Many who try to flee or think of escaping would risk persecution. She posted that family members had threatened to kill her, that she was abused and treated like a slave.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, center, stands with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, right, as she arrives at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

A local resettlement support agency on contract with the federal government, COSTI will help her find temporary lodging, apply for health coverage and a social insurance number, open a bank account, and learn to get around Canada's largest city, Calla explained.

Mohammed did not take any questions from the media after the news conference and said she will not be doing any more media interviews in the near future. A Saudi official had followed her and confiscated her passport, she said. "Her emotions go back and forth".

Calla said she has completed high school and had expressed interest in taking civil engineering in university.

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