An alleged rape victim has been sentenced to 16 months’ jail time for sex outside of wedlock in Dubai, the latest sex assault case to draw criticism about the United Arab Emirates’s Islamic-influenced legal codes.
Deborah Dalelv, a 24-year-old Norwegian, who had been working for an interior design firm in Qatar since 2011, claims she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker while attending a business meeting in Dubai. She says she fled to the lobby after being attacked, where hotel staff asked if she would like to involve the police. “Of course I want to call the police,” she said. “That is the natural reaction where I am from.”
Dalelv was detained for four days, accused of sex outside of wedlock, and underwent a medical examination and blood tests for evidence of alcohol consumption, also a punishable offence. She is planning to appeal the sentence, but has spoken out in the hope of warning other foreign workers about local laws that are at odds with the city’s cosmopolitan image and atmosphere.
The sentence is far from the first of its kind. In the August issue of marie claire, Australian Alicia Gali describes being drugged and gang-raped in nearby Fujairah – a crime for which she received eight months’ jail time.