The United Nations has received emailed claims that several Saudi Arabian princesses are being held captive in their father’s grand palace. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or OHCHR, the princesses’ mother Alanoud Alfayez informed them that her daughters have been held in the royal compound against their will and are “cut off from the world”.
In Alfayez’s email, she wrote that the princesses have been imprisoned for 13 years and that their father (and her ex-husband) King Abdullah appointed three of their half-brothers to monitor their every move. Alfayez appealed to the UN to intervene in the situation.
British newspaper The Sunday Times of London previously published a story detailing an email their office received from two of the imprisoned princesses. According to 42-year-old Princess Sahar and 38-year-old Princess Jawaher, they and their sisters 41-year-old Maha and 39-year-old Hala have been living in seclusion in the royal compound, although their two sisters are separate from them.
Princesses Sahar and Jawaher added in the email that they see each other slowly “fading into nothingness”. They also expressed concern over their sister Hala’s situation, saying that her health is deteriorating every day and that she is not being given medical attention. Princess Hala is said to be afflicted with anorexia and unnamed psychological problems. Alfayez said that she had not spoken with the sick princess for two years before their last phone conversation in which Princess Hala told her that “she wanted to die”.
The imprisoned princesses allegedly got their father’s disapproval because of their reputation of being “party-going” women, as well as their vocal opinion toward the poverty situation in Saudi Arabia.
Last week, the OHCHR resolved to endorse Alfayez’s letter to the United Nations special investigator on violence against women, who handles global complaints of a similar nature and determines which ones deserve to be given closer inspection. OHCHR spokesperson Xabier Celaya stated that the UN has yet to confirm if any measures have been taken regarding the case.
Saudi law states that the Saudi King can legally compel his daughters to remain within the confines of the palace by virtue of his right to limit their travel. All females are required to have a male guardian like a father, brother, or husband.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has more than 40 children, four of whom he had with Alfayez when she was 15 years old and he in his forties. Alfayez moved to London after she and the King divorced.
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