Expatriates throughout Dubai and surrounding areas have been shocked by the news that a Norwegian woman who was raped during a business visit to Dubai has herself been handed a 16-month prison sentence.
Debroah Dalelv was raped when she visited Dubai on a business trip from Qatar in March this year. However, upon reporting the assault to the authorities she was shocked to learn that she herself was to be charged with having extra-marital sex, consuming alcohol without a license and perjury. Last week she was a handed a 16-month jail sentence for her ‘crimes’ while her attacker received a13-month sentence for out-of-wedlock sex and alcohol consumption.
Although Norwegian diplomats later secured Dalelv’s release from incarceration on the proviso that she remains at the Norwegian Seamen’s Center in central Dubai, the 25-year-old expat now hopes to succeed in an appeal against the ruling.
The case has attracted major outrage from human right’s campaigners and expatriates living in Dubai. In London, a spokesman for the Emirates Center for Human Rights, a group that is responsible for monitoring UAE affairs, said the Dalelv case highlights the need for the UAE authorities to consider legal protection for alleged rape victims: “We urge authorities to reform the laws governing incidents of rape in the country,” said Rori Donaghy, “to ensure women are protected against sexual violence and do not become the targets of prosecution when reporting crimes.”
Meanwhile, authorities in Norway have expressed their shock at the sentence handed down to one of their citizens: “This verdict flies in the face of our notion of justice,” Norway’s foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, told the NTB news agency, describing it “highly problematic from a human rights perspective.”
This particular case highlights the risks that expatriates take when they fail to take into consideration the Islamic-influenced legal codes that govern this cosmopolitan city. Those that chose to live in Dubai need to ensure that they fully understand the laws and regulations that govern the city and that they take appropriate actions to protect themselves from situations that may entail they unwittingly break the law.
If you’re considering relocating to Dubai make sure you are fully informed with our comprehensive guide to living in Dubai. It contains everything you need to know about the complex Islamic-influenced laws in the city and provides practical advice on how you can avoid getting in serious trouble.