It's the stuff of fairytales for princesses to be locked in a tower, but in today's Saudi Arabia, four princesses, Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher say they have been held against their will in a royal compound in Jeddah for nearly 13 years.
Their mother, Princess Alanoud Al Fayez, is a former wife of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and has broken silence from the safety of London. The princesses themselves have communicated with a Channel 4 News television crew by email, saying they were taken captive for speaking up for women's rights.“People don't realise how hard our situation is. They still see us as ‘pampered’ Saudi Princesses. We never were. We suffer on a daily basis,” said Princess Sahar by email to Channel 4.
Mother (@AlanoudDAlfayez) and two daughters (@Jawaher1776 and @Art_Moqawama) have also taken to Twitter, where they are speaking out full throttle against their captors, and about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries in general.
To those racist sectarian enslaved minds who think bullying us into silence about human rights abuses,THINK AGAIN>
— Jawaher جواهر (@Jawaher1776) March 11, 2014
Princess Sahar tweeted this photo on March 9, 2014 of deteriorating conditions where they are held.
A glimpse of our so-called 'gilded cage', a stereotypical word, portraying fantasy world. We live amidst ruins. pic.twitter.com/0UCagKZThv
— Sahar سحر (@Art_Moqawama) March 9, 2014
Twitter is abuzz with questions and comments from people who are shocked to hear the news. The princesses themselves have been replying and retweeting messages from supporters who learned of their plight from Channel 4.
@majeda76 I cannot tell you how emotionally drained Jawaher & I are..we miss Mum so much..no solace in tears..God bless u Majeda. Insh'Allah
— Sahar سحر (@Art_Moqawama) March 10, 2014
The concerned mother has attempted to get her daughters released with the help of UN's special rapporteur on human rights. She says she is especially worried for the health of Princess Hala, who allegedly suffers from anorexia.
The house of Saud has not commented on the matter.
The billionaire king (thought to be 89) is frequently visited by world leaders and dignitaries. Using their own experience as an example, the princesses jab at leaders in the West who they say do too little for the human rights of women and children in Saudi Arabia.
Channel 4 uploaded a video of their report to the Web on March 10, 2014.