Alqunun's case has highlighted the cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun's attempt to flee the ultra-conservative kingdom has been embraced by rights groups as a beacon of defiance against repression.
"Usually it's really very slow", said Mary Anne Kenny, a veteran legal practitioner and expert in Australian migration at Perth's Murdoch University.
She then barricaded herself inside a hotel room, posting live updates on social media in which she said she feared for her life should she be forcibly returned to her family.
Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is now staying in a Bangkok hotel under the care of the United Nation's refugee agency (UNHCR), which has been processing her application for refugee status ahead of possible resettlement in Australia.
She will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments. Human rights activists say many more similar cases will have gone unreported.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks to the press at the Australian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019.
Qunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday and was initially denied entry but after a tense 48-hour stand-off at Bangkok airport, some of it barricaded in a transit lounge hotel room, she was allowed to enter the country and has been processed as a refugee by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
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Thai authorities eventually allowed her to enter the country on Monday evening and the United Nations refugee agency referred Rahaf to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement.
"She needs to be protected from those who want to murder her, and should promptly be given asylum in Australia", the commentary said. "We are, as I've said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr.al-Araibi to Bahrain".
But armed with a smartphone and a hastily opened Twitter account, she forced a U-turn from Thai immigration police who handed her into the care of the UN's refugee agency as the #SaveRahaf hashtag bounced across the world.
Thailand's immigration chief Surachate had earlier told reporters Friday that "two or three" countries were ready to offer her asylum.
It noted that Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee and "torture survivor" from Bahrain granted residence in Australia, has been detained by Thailand since November awaiting a hearing on a Bahraini extradition request. "We will go through those according to our own system and our own process", she said.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's appeal for refugee status has underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face.
'Rahaf received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account, please save Rahaf life, ' @nourahfa313 wrote.
"And actually his tribe is one of the largest tribes in Saudi Arabia, so it's quite influential and she certainly would have faced grievous physical harm and perhaps death if she had been sent back based on what I've been told by our researcher and others", he said.