Payne refuses to detail time line on Australia's Saudi teen decision
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has refused to detail Australia’s time line for a decision over whether Australia will process a young Saudi woman’s claim for asylum.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, is in Bangkok while her application for refugee settlement is being weighed up by Australia.
Senator Payne visited Thailand yesterday less than a week after the teenager's plight garnered global attention through her social media campaign for asylum.
She said the matter would be resolved "in due course" however, she would not be drawn on a specific time line.
"Australia is now engaged in the steps of the assessment process of Ms Alqunun as required. That is a process that is underway," Senator Payne told reporters in Bangkok.
Senator Payne praised Thailand for referring the case to the United Nations, which determined Ms Alqunun's was a refugee.
Ms Alqunun had planned to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum before she was detained last weekend.
The teenager fears her family will kill her if she returns home after she renounced Islam and fled while on holiday in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, four women have held a topless protest in Sydney to support of Ms Alqunun.
The 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 wome6n everywhere.
"We are here to encourage them to let her in," Love said.
"She's been recognized 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.”
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