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Women's rights in Saudi Arabia: 'I escaped to seek a better life'

As the debate about women's rights in the country continues, another young woman who fled Saudi Arabia for Canada has told her story to the BBC.

Salwa, 24, ran away with her 19-year-old sister eight months ago and now lives in Montreal. This, in her own words, is her story.


There's no life in Saudi Arabia. I just went to the university then moved back home and did nothing all day.

They hurt me, and told me bad things like men are superior. I was forced to pray and fast at Ramadan as well.

When I arrived in Germany I went to legal aid to find a lawyer for my asylum claim. I filled out some forms and told them my story.

I chose Canada because it has a very good reputation for human rights. I followed the news about the Syrian refugees being resettled there and decided it was the best place for me.

My claim was accepted, and when I landed in Toronto I saw the Canadian flag at the airport and just felt this amazing sense of achievement.

I'm in Montreal today with my sister and there's no stress. No one forces me to do anything here.

They might have more money in Saudi Arabia but here it's better because when I want to leave my apartment I can just leave. I don't need consent. I just go outside.

It makes me feel really, really, happy. I feel like I am free. I just wear what I want to wear.

I love the colours in the autumn and the snow here. I'm learning French but it's so difficult! I'm also learning to ride a bicycle and I'm trying to learn how to swim and ice skate.

I feel like I'm actually doing something with my life.

I don't have any contact with my family, but I think that's good for me and for them. I feel like this is my home now. It's better here.



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