Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv,24, is Norwegian. Dubai courts this week handed her a prison sentence of 16 months, after she reported to the police that she had been raped.
She said that the rape occurred during a night out with her colleagues in March this year.
The police response was to charge her with having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury. She says she is appealing the verdict at a hearing in September.
In an interview with the AFP news agency she said: “I am very nervous and tense. But I hope for the best and I take one day at a time. I just have to get through this.” After making her report to the police they took away her passport and her money. Four days later she was charged on three counts including having extra marital sex.
She believes that her alleged attacker got a 13-month sentence for the sex, and for drinking alcohol.
Ms Dalelv’s was given a conditional release after pressure from the Norwegian government; she is staying at the Norwegian Seamans’ Center in Dubai.
Norway’s Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, criticized the sentence, saying that it “flies in the face of our notion of justice” and was “highly problematic from a human rights perspective”.
The BBC reports that the Norwegian authorities are trying to contact the authorities in Dubai about the situation. The Emirates Centre for Human Rights, in London, demanded that Dubai cancel the conviction. They claimed that UAE law states a rape conviction can only be secured in two situations. Either the rapist must confess, or four adult male must have witnessed the rape.
However,Dubai has problems adjusting to the norms of western society. There have been a number of previous cases of tourists being imprisoned for acts that are perfectly normal outside of the Middle East.
These incidents involved British tourists. But whether you are British, or Norwegian, Dubai is a place to be treated with caution.