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Canada’s acceptance of teen refugee could spark backlash against Saudi women: experts

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WATCH: Saudi teen granted asylum, arrives in Canada – Jan 12, 2019

OTTAWA – Canada’s acceptance of a Saudi Arabian teenager seeking asylum is sparking debate within the country about loosening laws restricting women’s freedom, but also a backlash that could initially repress more women, analysts say.

READ MORE: Canada shouldn’t use teenage Saudi refugee as a ‘political football,’ says ex-ambassador

The Trudeau government’s decision to accept 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun as a refugee from Saudi Arabia is stoking internal discussion over loosening her home country’s controversial guardianship laws that give men control over women’s lives.

But experts say that slow march to reform could also be impeded by conservative families that will curtail their daughters’ freedom even more in light of Alqunun’s high-profile dash to freedom.

WATCH: Freeland welcomes Saudi teen fleeing abusive family to Canada

Click to play video: 'Freeland welcomes Saudi teen fleeing abusive family to Canada' Freeland welcomes Saudi teen fleeing abusive family to Canada
Freeland welcomes Saudi teen fleeing abusive family to Canada – Jan 12, 2019

Alqunun won global attention last week when she fled her family while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, Thailand.

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She barricaded herself in an airport hotel and launched a Twitter campaign outlining allegations of abuse against her relatives, accusations her family has denied.

READ MORE: Woman who fled Saudi Arabia arrives in Toronto

She arrived in Toronto on Saturday after Canada agreed to a United Nations request to accept her as a refugee.

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