A Dutch woman found herself detained in Qatar after she filed a complaint to the police about being raped. She is being held on suspicion of adultery, her lawyer told Dutch media said on Saturday.
According to her lawyer, the 22-year-old realized that she had been raped after being drugged in a Doha hotel and waking up in an unfamiliar flat. “She was arrested in March on suspicion of adultery (extramarital sex), which is outlawed in Qatar,” lawyer Brian Lokollo told NOS-Radio1. A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed on Saturday that the young woman, whom she named as Laura, had been arrested but had not yet been charged with anything.
Dutch embassy spoke to Doha News on the matter of her arrest.
“The Dutch government and embassy are in close contact with the defendant and her family in the Netherlands. We have provided assistance to her since the first day of detention. For the sake of the defendant’s case we will not make further comments at this point.”
According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Laura was out dancing at the Crystal Lounge in the Doha Hotel, a popular hangout for foreign tourists, where consumption of alcohol is permitted. Her lawyer, Brian Lokollo, recounted the events of the night as following.
“She went dancing but when she returned to the table after the first sip of her drink, she realised that she had been drugged.
“She felt very unwell. The young woman remembers nothing more until the following morning when she woke up in a totally unfamiliar apartment before realizing the great horror, that she had been raped.”
Laura somehow managed to escape the unknown flat. She went straight to a police station where she wanted to file a rape complaint, but instead the police turned on her, refusing to let her leave. Her Lawyer says that the terrible experience has left Laura traumatized and psychologically wounded.
“It is totally inhuman,” the woman’s mother, Marian, told Dutch television NOS as she held up a photo of her daughter with long curly black hair, who had gone on holiday for the first time without her mother.
In phone calls, Laura “tries sometimes to reassure me saying ‘I will come back home soon’, and sometimes she cries and cries…”, the mother, herself in tears, said.
The suspected rapist was also arrested. He denied the allegations made against him, claiming that their night together had been consensual. He further accused Laura of asking him for money. According to Dutch media, Laura is under significant pressure from the man’s family, who want the two to get married in order to avoid further prosecution. Laura’s mother spoke to Dutch media on the matter.
“I’m constantly put under pressure to let my daughter marry her rapist. I get text messages from an unknown number in Lebanon which call for consent to a marriage between Laura and her rapist.”
A court hearing is set to take place on Monday. The Dutch foreign ministry hopes that the decision will be fair to Laura. Ahead of the hearing, people have started a campaign in social media asking for Laura’s release, under the hashtag #FreeLaura.
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The laws regarding alcohol and sex are very strict in the middle-east, where Islamic law is enthusiastically practiced. Islamic law is highly biased against women and most often the victims are considered guilty. A case similar to this occurred in the neighboring UAE in 2013, when a 24-year-old Norwegian woman who brought a rape complaint against her boss was jailed for 16 months for “indecent behavior,” perjury, and alcohol consumption. She was later pardoned by the authorities.
[Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images]