In downtown Sydney on Thursday morning, four women, dressed only in jeans and calling themselves the Secret Sisterhood, protested outside the building housing the Saudi Consulate, calling on Australia to grant Alqunun residency.
With "Secret Sisterhood" written on their backs, the women held placards with messages including "Let her in," ''Rahaf Sisterhood Hero" and "All women free + safe." Secret Sisterhood founder Jacquie Love said the protest was held to urge the Australian government to recognise Alqunun's plight, and that of oppressed women everywhere.
"We are here to encourage them to let her in," Love said.
"She's been recognised by the UN as a refugee so we believe the Australian government needs to step up, recognise her plight and recognise what she's gone through, and she could be an icon for the rest of the world that women shouldn't be oppressed and they should be fleeing countries that they are oppressed in."
"We decided to go topless because we believe all women should be able to express themselves freely and safely and we wanted to send a message to Rahaf that we can actually do that in Australia, that women can actually be free and safe," Love said.
Alqunun's case has highlighted the cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home.
Human rights activists say many more similar cases will have gone unreported.
After mounting a campaign for assistance on Twitter from her Bangkok airport hotel, Alqunun was allowed to temporarily stay in Thailand under the care of the UN refugee agency, which ruled her claim for asylum valid and referred her case to Australia.
Following that decision, Australia's Home Affairs Department said it would "consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals."
Alqunun's father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but his daughter refused to meet with him.
Thailand's Immigration Police chief Lt. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said the father whose name has not been released denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to force her into an arranged marriage, which were among the reasons she gave for her flight.
Surachate said Alqunun's father wanted his daughter back but respected her decision.
"He has 10 children. He said the daughter might feel neglected sometimes," Surachate said.
However, Health Minister Greg Hunt, also speaking before the UN's decision, said: "If she is found to be a refugee, then we will give very, very, very serious consideration to a humanitarian visa.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)