Rahaf Mohammed fleeing gender oppression in Saudi Arabia

A lot of media attention is being given to teenager Rahaf Mohammend al-Qunun being given asylum in Canada after fleeing her family and gender oppression in Saudi Arabia.

Mercury – Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun granted asylum in Canada

Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun has been granted asylum in Canada after she fled her family fearing her father would kill her for renouncing Islam.

NDTV – Being In Canada “Worth The Risk”: Teen Who Fled Saudi, Fearing For Life

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun plans to pursue an education, get a job and “live a normal life” in Canada – things she said she could not do in her home of Saudi Arabia, which she fled fearing for her life, she told Canadian media on Monday.

Being in Canada is “a very good feeling,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation two days after arriving in Toronto from Bangkok.

“It’s something that is worth the risk I took.”

Qunun grabbed international attention last week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies abusing her. Qunun refused to meet her father and brother, who arrived in Bangkok to try to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees granted her refugee status, and Canada agreed to take her in.

Qunun’s case has drawn global attention to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male “guardian” in order to travel, something rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

In her CBC interview, Qunun said: “I felt that I could not achieve my dreams that I wanted as long as I was still living in Saudi Arabia.”

Having come to Canada, “I felt that I was reborn, especially when I felt the love and the welcome,” she said.

In her new home, “I will try things I haven’t tried. I will learn things I didn’t learn. I will explore life. … I will have a job and live a normal life.”

This is quite an abnormal event in her life, but moving to Canada should at least allow her to make her own choices.

Statement by Rahaf Mohammed:

Guardian – Rahaf al-Qunun: ‘I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free’

Speaking in her first interview after being given asylum in Canada, and landing in Toronto on Saturday, Qunun, told the ABC Australia her case might be the “agent for change” in Saudi Arabia, a country where women are denied basic freedoms and are not allowed to work, marry and travel without the permission of a male guardian.

“I think that the number of women fleeing from the Saudi administration and abuse will increase, especially since there is no system to stop them,” said Qunun. “I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free.”

The 18-year-old added: “I hope my story prompts a change to the laws, especially as it’s been exposed to the world.”

“I wanted to be free from oppression and depression,” she told the ABC. “I wanted to be independent. I wouldn’t have been able to marry the person I wanted. I couldn’t get a job without permission.”

Qunun had originally applied for asylum in Australia but confirmed it was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that chose Canada because it processed her application more quickly. “This wasn’t my choice, it was the UN’s,” she said. “All I wanted was for a country to protect me. So, my choice was just for any country to protect me.”

In Saudi Arabia, the government-backed National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) also released a statement on Monday accusing several foreign countries of inciting “Saudi female delinquents to rebel against the values of their families and push them out of the country and seek to receive them under the pretext of granting them asylum.”

‘The values of their families’ and laws of the country in Saudi Arabia are quite oppressive towards females.

On their own the actions of Rahaf Mohammend (different versions of her name are given in different reports) may not change much in Saudi Arabia, but it may contribute to change there eventually. On a personal level it is a huge and brave decision.

But “I would like to start living a private normal life” and “Today and for years to come, I will work in support of freedom for women around the world” may be difficult to achieve side by side.



To car killer: “young men shouldn’t be behind the wheel “

A 19 years old man (if he can be called that) has been jailed after killing a man and maiming a woman in a car crash last year. He shouldn’t have been driving, he shouldn’t have been texting, and he acted appallingly and without remorse afterwards.

From ‘CoodGunt’ at Reddit – Judge Kim Saunders:”young men should not be behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

She is bang out of order. Imagine the headlines if a male judge said that about young female drivers instead.

And from fitzroy95:

Making rash judgement about entire groups of people and not specific people makes you a pile of shit, and a fucking awful judge.

A response from MrCyn:

Context, he lied about the reason for the crash by blaming it on his breaks, but he was texting. Was driving on a disqualified leareer licence with other teenagers in the car, didn’t turn up to police meetings and probation meetings and was caught driving again

But it was an evident lack of remorse that left Judge Kim Saunders apparently stunned as she sentenced Hannon McGinn.

“You are a poster child for why young men should not be behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is a lethal weapon,” she said.

Saunders said she struggled to understand why he had driven again after having been found guilty at the trial.

“I have no idea what on earth you were thinking, that it was your right to continue to drive.”

The Stuff report seems to have a changed headline: Killer driver’s lack of remorse shocks judge

A teenaged driver who hooned straight through an intersection and slammed into another car – killing one of its occupants – has been labelled a “poster boy” for arrogant, self-entitled young male drivers.

Stefan Lee Hannon McGinn​ was jailed for two years and three months when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Monday on charges of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury.

Trevor Bland, 56, the driver of the car Hannon McGinn struck, suffered critical injuries and died in Waikato Hospital.

Hannon McGinn should not have been driving, let alone texting.

The crash near Taupiri on March 12 last year should never have happened because the 19-year-old should never have been behind the wheel that day. His learner licence had been revoked after he racked up a stack of demerit points.

Even if he still had his learner’s licence, he was transporting two young men aged 17 and 19 – neither of whom had a licence themselves – which was a direct contravention of learner licence driving conditions.

The warrant of the unregistered car Hannon McGinn was driving had expired in January 2014.

And a police check of his cellphone records showed that in the minutes before the impact at 4.55pm, he had been receiving and sending text messages while behind the wheel.

It was an insouciant, callous attitude that he carried on after the deadly smash, telling the police the brakes on his car had failed – a subsequent investigation found they hadn’t – and denying he had been using his cellphone.

He later failed to show up for four scheduled interviews with the police, refused to give them his home address and when he eventually did, gave them a false address.

He denied the charges against him and was ultimately found guilty at a judge-alone trial in August this year.

He then failed to attend a pre-sentence meeting with his probation officer and was also caught driving again.

Not a good way to get a sympathetic hearing from a sentencing judge.

It was an evident lack of remorse that left Judge Kim Saunders apparently stunned as she sentenced Hannon McGinn.

“You are a poster child for why young men should not be behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is a lethal weapon,” she said.

Saunders said she struggled to understand why he had driven again after having been found guilty at the trial.

“I have no idea what on earth you were thinking, that it was your right to continue to drive.”

He did do some remorse eventually, sort of.


Hannon McGinn had written a letter of remorse in which he said his time in custody had opened his eyes.

He said he was genuinely sorry and now understood the loss and pain the Bland family were going through because he was also going through a loss – a loss of freedom.

“It is not comparable at all,” exclaimed the judge. “It is your own self that you are dwelling on. Whether it is because of your age or that you cannot understand the consequences of your actions, it is hard to tell.”

“I’m troubled greatly as to whether you are genuinely sincere.”

As well as killing a man the feects of his actions were significant.

Bland’s partner, Kim Robinson, who suffered fractures to her face, eye socket, ribs, sternum and spine in the crash, also had a statement read.

“You destroyed a big part of my life and left me broken. You will get to walk free, live again in the future. Trevor gets nothing. He is now ashes and you did that to him. I hope every day you feel the shame and remorse.”

Even Hannon McGinn’s mother is despairing of his behaviour.

Someone who apparently did understand the consequences was Hannon McGinn’s mother, who had withheld consent for her home to be used as a home-detention venue.

“I think like the rest of us she has struggled to accept your overwhelming sense of entitlement and self-pity.

“Your mother is described [in a pre-sentence report] as frustrated and despairing of your behaviour.”

Not all teenage males should be stopped from driving because of the dangerous actions of a few selfish idiots, but the attitude of some – Hannon McGinn had two passengers – aids and abets this sort of behaviour.

The consequences can be devastating for innocent victims.