MWT Note: As the editor of MWT, and an immigration attorney, it is very sad to read about women I could have helped. Unlike a recent client who I helped gain asylum in the US from Saudi Arabia, Rotana and Tala Farea committed suicide last October. Like Rotana and Tala, my client was a young woman who could not survive the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia.
Women should know that while the US is garnering an anti-immigrant image in the media, asylum is still being granted to women fleeing persecution in countries where they are subjected to harm. This includes the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, forced FGM in countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and increasingly southeast Asia, like Malaysia.
If you or someone you know needs help, please email us at email@example.com. Subject line: Immigration Question.
The deaths of two Saudi sisters whose bodies were discovered on the banks of New York's Hudson River last October were a double suicide, medical examiners have concluded.
Rotana Farea, 23, and Tala Farea, 16, were Saudi citizens who had been living in the United States for two to three years. They were students who were accompanying their brother in Washington, according to the Royal Consulate General of Saudia Arabia.
The women's bodies were found on the bank of the Hudson on the afternoon of October 24, in an area where "you would essentially walk right into the water," New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a press conference in November.
They wore similar black leggings and fur-trimmed jackets. Shea said they were tied together at the waist with duct tape in a way that was "keeping them together" but wasn't meant to restrain them.
They were put in a shelter-like facility in Fairfax, Virginia, because of abuse allegations that came up in their home jurisdiction. Shea did not elaborate on further details and reports of abuse, which he said are not corroborated at this time. The sisters were last seen together in Fairfax on August 24.
Were the girls seeking asylum?
Sources in the investigation have told detectives the sisters had said they would rather inflict harm on themselves or kill themselves rather than return to Saudi Arabia.
The New York Times reported the Saudi Embassy in Washington had called Rotana and Tala's mother to inform her that her daughters had applied for asylum in the United States.
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