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Dubai frees business visitor jailed after being raped

July 24, 2013 Destination Dubai, Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

Dubai has pardoned the young Norwegian business traveller sentenced to 16 months in prison after she reported to local police that she had been raped.

Her case and the court’s sentence had sparked outrage around the world.

Norwegian Marte Deborah Dalelv, an interior designer, was visiting Dubai on a business trip when she claims she was assaulted and raped by a co-worker in a hotel room. She reported the attack to hotel reception and asked the hotel to contact police immediately. To her shock, however, she found that not only did the police disbelieve her, they locked her up on suspicion of having had sex outside marriage.

Police confiscated Dalelv’s passport and would not let her make phone calls for days. She was finally allowed to phone her family and the Norwegian consulate and was released into the protection of the Norwegian Sailor’s Church in Dubai until her sentencing last week.

“I received the harshest sentence for sex outside marriage, harshest sentence for drinking alcohol and on top of that I was found guilty of perjury,” she told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.

Dalelv is not the first woman to find herself thrown into prison in Dubai after reporting being raped.

Alicia Gali, an Australian, earlier this year described how she was jailed in Dubai for eight months after being raped at Le Méridien Al Aqah hotel while working for the Starwood hotel chain there.

Dubai has treated Dalelv more leniently than Gali. Dalelv was convicted of perjury, having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol, but she is now free to go.

Her pardon (reportedly ordered personally by Dubai’s ruler) followed an international outcry. Dubai is a tourism centre and such draconian sentences do not further tourism. The Gulf state received 10 million visitors last year and wants to double the number by 2020.

The fact that Dalelv’s alleged rapist was pardoned at the same time as her has triggered a backlash on social media, the BBC reports. The man’s pardon tends to reinforce the view that Dubai views such crimes in terms of sex outside marriage, rather than rape.

Dalelv was delighted to be freed and was reported yesterday to be preparing to leave Dubai “as soon as possible”.

Under Sharia-influenced laws, sex outside marriage is completely forbidden in Dubai. Rape appears to count as sex. Rapists can be convicted only if they confess, or if four adult Muslim males witness the crime. An unmarried couple holding hands in public can be jailed.

Human Rights Watch says the UAE does not do enough to protect victims of sexual assault – and visitors can be caught up as well as residents. Victims reporting crimes often end up being charged themselves.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warns Australian travellers visiting the UAE to “be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you.

“De facto relationships, homosexual relationships and acts, adultery and prostitution are illegal and subject to severe punishment. Sex outside of marriage is illegal and may lead to imprisonment. It is also against the law in the UAE to live together or share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you are not married or closely related. These laws apply to residents as well as visitors.

“The UAE has a zero tolerance policy towards illegal drugs,” DFAT adds.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Lavasi says:

    Local law should be respected. So, information about the differences to our law should be well publicized. In term of human right, it’s best to ban Dubai all together.

  2. Andrew says:

    Exactly the sort of idiocy that I expected to happen in that sort of place,

    Wonder if Qantas and Alan Joyce are going to provide help and support to their customers who have the bad
    luck to experience the Dubai justice (joke) system?

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