Johanne Durocher fights to free her daughter and four grandchildren from a nightmarish life of abuse and poverty in Saudi Arabia.
In 2001, Nathalie Morin was just seventeen when she met Saeed, a Saudi man who claimed to be studying in Montreal. She fell in love with him, but soon after she gave birth to their son, Saeed was deported back to his country of origin. Struggling as a single mother and wanting Samir to know his father, Nathalie travelled to Saudi Arabia to reunite her family, confident that she would be able to return to Canada whenever she wanted. But a trap was closing around her — her partner turned out to be authoritarian and violent, the abuse continuing until their last child was born.
According to Saudi law, Nathalie was considered married and under Saeed’s legal authority. All too often she was shut away in her own house, a place of hellish poverty. In 2005, Johanne Durocher, Nathalie’s mother, began her decades-long struggle to get Nathalie back home to Canada with her four children: Samir, Abdullah, Sarah, and Fowaz. While Nathalie is allowed to return on her own, her children cannot leave because of a travel ban imposed by the Saudi government. And Nathalie will not leave without them.
Johanne’s relentless fight for her family has garnered the support of several members of the provincial and federal governments, activists, and NGOs, including Amnesty International, who considers Nathalie to be a survivor of gender-based violence.