A Saudi woman, trying to escape a forced marriage in Saudi Arabia, has been forced back to the Arab country by her relatives and airport authorities in the Philippines’ capital, Manila, where she had arrived before a planned trip further away to Australia.
Activists campaigned across social media on Friday to circulate information about the plight of the female, identified as the 24-year-old Dina Ali Lasloom.
Sensing danger, the female sought the help of a Canadian at the airport in the Philippines capital, the agency said, citing Human Rights Watch (HRW). The New York-based body said the Canadian had helped her post videos on social networks about her situation.
In one of them she said, “If my family comes, they will kill me,” according to the HRW, which also said, “Lasloom’s whereabouts are currently unknown.”
The woman was last seen being taken away by two of her uncles and airport security personnel, while gagged and struggling.
Beforehand, she had had her passport and boarding pass for a Sydney-bound flight “confiscated” by airport officials, the Canadian said.
It was not clear how her family had been informed of where she was and when she was there to appear at the airport, raising speculation that Philippine authorities might have notified the Saudi government.
Meanwhile, the Saudi embassy in Manila has written on Twitter that the incident was a family matter and that, “The citizen [Lasloom] has now returned with her family to the homeland.”
The Berlin-based European Saudi Organization for Human Rights told AFP that, “Women’s rights are... the most prominent human rights problem in Saudi Arabia.”
International campaigning and mounting criticism have failed to force Riyadh to end its medieval practices against women, including forced marriages and strict limitations on them.
Women are banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, where government-sanctioned clerics preach the extremist Wahhabi ideology. Wahhabism is also the main force behind the practices of almost all terrorist groups in the Middle East.