Students’ ‘Escape’ To South Korea Stirs Debate About Status Of Saudi Women

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The secret departure of two Saudi students to South Korea last week has sparked a heated debate in the ultraconservative kingdom about the status of women there.

The two women disappeared on Thursday and resurfaced later that day in South Korea. It is still unclear how they managed to get on a plane, an act that according to Saudi law requires the approval of their male chaperon. It is estimated that one of them fraudulently got her father’s approval on his mobile phone.

The father said that his daughter showed great interest in South Korea, watched Korean television series and loves travelling. “But I didn’t expect her to run away without permission. Her mother is devastated. I still don’t know why she did it.”

The other student’s brother also said that the reason for their flight was unknown.

Although the investigation is still in its initial stages, many on social media guessed that it had to do with the status of women in Saudi Arabia.

“When a man travels he’s a passenger or a migrant, but when a woman travels she’s a fugitive,” MAD tweeted. “Maybe that’s because everybody knows she lives in a prison.”

Juju tweeted: “A man can fly without his parents’ knowledge, and when it happens they beg him and try to justify it by saying that he was fed up with his job…!”

“Let’s hope it won’t become a trend now, especially with social media and the openness they usher in to society,” Eid al Fahad tweeted. “May Allah protect them and the daughters of Muslims.”

“Take me with youuu girls,” wrote Suga in English.

“They might have escaped because their families mistreated them,” Ahmad wrote. “When there’s smoke there’s fire.”

Some were outraged by Ahmad’s tweet, including Wafi, who replied: “You run away too. You are also oppressed and can’t enjoy your liberty, poor sod.”

Scarlett tweeted one word, in English: “Lucky.”

Sharife sympathized with the two “fugitives,” posting a video of young women running with the caption “run run run” in English.

“Good job girls,” the supportive Rawan tweeted, also in English.

Shod, however, posted a picture of a sad woman and wrote in English: “What about me.”