Sisters who 'fled Saudi Arabia' found dead in Australia apartment

Sisters who 'fled Saudi Arabia' found dead in Australia apartment
2 min read
21 June, 2022
The two women found dead in an apartment in a suburb of Sydney had fled Saudi Arabia as teenagers in 2017, according to reports
The bodies of the two women, aged 23 and 24, were found in the flat in Canterbury, southwest Sydney on 7 June [AFP via Getty - file photo]

Two sisters found dead in an apartment in Sydney, Australia earlier this month had fled Saudi Arabia, Daily Mail Australia reported Saturday.

The bodies of the women, aged 23 and 24, were found in the flat in Canterbury, southwest Sydney on 7 June, police said.

They were found by officers conducting a welfare check after they had failed to pay a month's rent and mail piled up at the front door. The women had been dead for "some time" when found, police reportedly said.

There were no signs of forced entry into the flat, and no signs of injury on the women, whose decaying bodies were found in separate bedrooms - but police said they were treating the death as suspicious.

The two had fled Saudi Arabia as teenagers in 2017, Daily Mail Australia reported. They led quiet lives in Sydney's Canterbury suburb, and had friendly interactions with locals, according to the report.

To formally identify the bodies, police are trying to reach family in Saudi Arabia, but said it is proving difficult as they do not appear to be in regular contact with relatives.

There had been concerns about their welfare, with the women described as being "timid" and "standoffish" during a check by police months before their deaths, a source told the news outlet.

Their BMW coupe had been keyed a few months before the welfare checks, and the older sister had taken out a restraining against a 28-year-old man in 2019 - although this was later withdrawn and dismissed.

It is not clear why the women left Saudi Arabia, and authorities in Australia would not confirm to Daily Mail Australia if the women were seeking asylum.

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In 2019, a report by the investigative journalism television show 'Four Corners' found that around 80 Saudi women had tried to seek asylum in Australia in recent years. 

Many were fleeing Saudi Arabia's oppressive male guardianship laws, which allow their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles and sons to effectively control their lives.

While other countries in the Middle East have elements of the male guardianship system, Saudi Arabia's laws are by far the most draconian in reach and application, according to Human Rights Watch.

Australia is one of a handful of countries that doesn't require a visit to an embassy or consulate to apply for a visa - one less obstacle for Saudi women seeking to escape their homes in the kingdom.

However, an investigation by Australian journalists in 2019 found that Australian authorities were blocking Saudi women suspected of wanting to seek asylum from entering the country.