Weeks after Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun made news for fleeing her home in Saudi Arabia and barricading herself at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport refusing to be deported, two other women from the Kingdom have said that they do not want to live with their family in Riyadh and are hoping to be granted asylum in another country.
The two sisters have been hiding in Hong Kong since September 2018 and said that they decided to flee home to escape beatings and routine abuse by their father and brothers. The two sisters go by the pseudonyms Reem and Rawan and are 20 and 18 years old, respectively.
The sisters have said that they have renounced Islam and have been living in Hong Kong, but are worried that they will be deported to Riyadh. In case they are sent back home, the duo believes that they will either be killed or be forced to get married.
"Either we will be killed because they want to clear [the] shame we brought as women who left by their own, or they will force us to marry... our cousins", Reem told the the Agence France-Presse.
Reem and Rawan have said that they have continuously moved homes in Hong Kong as they fear that they will be tracked down. The duo also said that the police had tried to take them to meet male relatives and Saudi officials on more than one occasion. Hong Kong's security minister John Lee also said that "police have received two separate reports, one regarding missing person[s] and one regarding request for investigation."
Sisters speak of an unhappy life in Riyadh
Reem and Rawan also spoke of their life in Riyadh and said that they felt like "prisoners" in their own home. The duo revealed that they were beaten by their father when they were young, and by the brothers as they grew up. "They started to beat me... my father didn't really stop them. He thinks that this is what makes them men," Reem told AFP.
The sisters also spoke of their youngest brother and said that even though he was just 10, he was learning to control them and even scolded them for the way they dressed. "He was only a child but he learned this from his brothers and from his father and from all the men around him, that this is the good way to be a man and to deal with women," Reem explained.
Meanwhile, Rawan said that her brothers and father did not behave like family, and instead were like a "prison officer." She said the men made all the decisions, right from their clothes, hairstyle and even the time they woke up and slept. "They were like my jailer, like my prison officer. I was like a prisoner," Rawan told Reuters. "It was basically modern day slavery. You can't go out of the house unless someone is with us. Sometimes we will stay for months without even seeing the sun," Reem added.
Reem and Rawan also revealed that they were upset about leaving behind their other sisters aged 12 and five, but hoped their family will get a lesson from this and it might help to change their lives for the better."
Fed up of all the policing, the two young women said that they fled while on a vacation with their family in Sri Lanka. They had reportedly been saving up for about two years and they stole their passports when their parents were asleep. While they intended to arrive in Hong Kong and then fly to Australia, they were told that their flight to Melbourne had been cancelled. They have since been stranded in Hong Kong and have said that Saudi consular officials intercepted them later revoked their passports.
Reem and Rawan have since been chronicling their life on Twitter and hope to have a normal future. "My hope for the future is to settle down, to have a normal life ... when we were in Saudi Arabia, we were locked in the house every day," Reem told AFP.
"We don't even meet our friends, we don't go out, we don't have any hobbies outside ... So, I just want to do everything that I can do in life," she said, adding that she wanted to be a writer someday.
The incident comes after Qunun hit headlines for running away from Kuwait and seeking asylum in "any country that would protect me from getting harmed or killed due to leaving my religion and torture from my family."