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Princesses held captive 13 years by Saudi King: Princess Sahar's plea for help

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Four princess daughters of the King of Saudi Arabia have been held captive in in a guarded villa in the royal compound in Jeddah by their father for the past 13 years. This is according to recent correspondence the women have had with the media, as recently the princesses have reached out for help. The mother of the princesses wrote a letter about the plight of her daughters’ asking for help to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to the JPost on March 9.

It was Alanoud Alfaye, the King’s ex-wife and mother of the princesses who shed light on what was going on behind the palace doors. Her daughters are “imprisoned” and being “held against their will”, they are “cut off from the world,” conveys the women’s mother.

These women lived a lavish life years ago, where just about every wish was at their command, so what happened? According to Princess Sahar, 42, they did enjoy a pampered life until she and her sisters began complaining to their father about the poverty of the Saudi people. For the last 13 years, their life has been within the palace walls, shut away.

It seems as though it is their half-brother that is in charge of the girls. He was posted as the watch dog over his half-sisters by the King of Saudi Arabia. He gives them permission to leave the palace just long enough to bring back groceries, their mother told the human rights people. He monitors them at all times.

The princesses’ mother wants the human rights agency from the UN to intervene and save her four daughters from this life. Alfayez married the King when she was 15-years-old and she gave him four daughters. The man was 40 at the time and already had 38 other children by a number of wives. The two divorced and the children stayed with their father.

These princesses are grown women in their late 30s and early 40s. They too wrote emails reaching asking for help. This was included in their email to the Sunday Times:

"We slowly watch each other fading away into nothingness," they said, adding that their sister Hala had told them "that her mind is slipping away ... that the life is being sucked out of her."

Two of the princesses are held in one area of the palace and the other two are together in another area of the palace. King Abdullah has a right to do this, as it falls under Saudi law. He has the right to have his daughters assigned to the premises of the palace. It is also a law that the women have a guardian, which is where their half-brother comes in. Under the law, the guardian pretty much approves or disapproves anything these women want to do.

It is hard to believe that this is going on today, but the bigger picture might be to tackle getting that law changed. The women don’t seem to have a legal leg to stand on under the umbrella of a medieval-sounding law.

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