Earlier this week, Maha al-Subaie and Wafaa al-Subaie, two Saudi sisters, left the nation and appealed for international asylum because of their life-threatening conditions. As openly stated by them, in case of a return their life could be potentially endangered by the human rights restrictive measures adopted by the conservative kingdom of Riyadh. Surprisingly, yesterday the Georgian government answered their call by offering help and direct support. As a matter of fact, the Georgian Interior Ministry said that immigration authorities had visited the siblings in their temporary apartment in Tbilisi, providing them with the needed information on how to apply for asylum papers. Furthermore, Maha al-Subaie, 28, and Wafaa al-Subaie, 25, were later taken to the interior ministry’s immigration office aboard a security van, as shown by local media footage.
On Wednesday 17 April, the siblings shared a short video through a shared Twitter account in which they informed of their arrival in Georgia and their appeal to the international community to find shelter in a new country. The sisters claimed “we fled oppression from our family because the laws in Saudi Arabia is too weak [sic] to protect us” and said they are in danger. Moreover, their father and brothers have arrived in Georgia looking for them. They have posted photos of themselves on Twitter so that “if something happened to us people would remember us.” Since then, their account has been made private and tweets are not publicly accessible. Before Georgian intervention, they asked for protection from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), since Riyadh’s government has suspended their passports, trapping them in Georgia.
The case is the latest to draw attention to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules, especially for women’s struggle in obtaining the needed permission of a male “guardian” if they wish to work, marry or travel. As many human rights reports and researches confirm, such system legitimates the enslaving process of women and girls in abusive families.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) pledges the reactivity of Tbilisi’s authorities in offering their support for human rights issues. We take advantage of the case to raise the awareness of the inhuman treatment of women in Saudi Arabia and to call on the international community to increase and tackle such issues through diplomatic channels.