Qatar Convicts And Gives One-Year Sentence To Dutch Woman Who Reported Rape At Upscale Hotel, Plans To Deport Her Once Hefty Fine Paid

On Monday, a Qatari court handed a one-year suspended sentence and a hefty fine on suspicion of adultery to a 22-year-old Dutch woman who had reported to the authorities that she had been drugged and raped after attending an upscale night club in Doha. She will also be deported from the country of her rape.

The young woman, identified only as Laura and said to originate from the Dutch city of Utrecht, had been in the country on vacation at the time of the March 14 incident. However, when she went to the Qatari police to report her rape, she was arrested and jailed. Laura was immediately held and has been in jail ever since, during which time she has been prosecuted on charges of adultery and alcohol consumption and also issued a fine.

The sentencing of the alleged rape victim comes after she had already been detained for three months in Qatar. The Dutch Foreign Ministry has announced that Qatar will soon allow the woman to return to her own country, however, this is because the Dutch woman will be deported for reporting the rape. Daphne Kerremans, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry, said that the woman has been fined approximately 750 euros, or nearly $850, and according to Voice of America, the moment she pays that hefty fine, she will be deported back to the Netherlands.

Kerremans advised that the Dutch ambassador has been with the woman throughout the ordeal and has been working to make sure that “she can go home as soon as possible.” The spokeswoman has said that Laura has found the whole thing “quite overwhelming.” Meanwhile, the Dutch ambassador to Qatar, Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, was present in the Qatar court and advised reporters that the embassy would indeed help Laura once the authorities deported her from Qatar after the fine is paid.

“We will do everything to get her out of the country as soon as possible to where she wants to go.”

The man Laura identified as her attacker, Omar Abdullah al-Hasan, was also detained by the police but has not been charged with rape. The man made claims to the Qatari authorities that the sex was consensual and was convicted of having sex outside of marriage, which is an illegal act in Qatar. His punishment was 100 lashes for adultery and another 40 lashes for public drunkenness, but no mention of rape was made in his sentence at all. The club the two had been in, being one of the high-end hotels in Qatar, is allowed to serve alcohol, but it is illegal for the country’s residents to drink it without the permission of their employers.

The Dutch victim is said to have realized that something was wrong the moment she took her first sip of the alcohol she received at the club in the Doha hotel. Her lawyer, Brian Lokollo, spoke to the media about the rape, stating that after that first sip the next moment Laura is aware of was waking up the following morning in an unfamiliar apartment and realizing that her body had been violated.

The case received a global spotlight after the family of the woman went to the news medias in the Netherlands regarding her arrest. The support for her grew into a social media campaign calling for the Dutch woman’s release once it became known the type of accusations she faced for reporting a rape as well as the fact that the police had actually arrested her for it.

This is not the first time the nation has captured global attention regarding their treatment of women who report rape. In 2013, a Norwegian woman who had been working in the United Arab Emirates was handed a sentence of 16 months in prison for charges of illegal consumption of alcohol, unlawful sex, and perjury when she reported that a colleague had sexually assaulted her. Eventually, she was pardoned and given permission to leave the country and return home.

The fact that the 2022 World Cup is scheduled to be in Qatar has been a point of contention for many, as the human rights record in the small nation, voted one of the richest countries by Forbes, does not stand up well to scrutiny, and the rape case has only added to these concerns. The issues of how the laborers building towards the World Cup are being treated are also a factor. It is unclear how Qatari officials will handle the thousands of Western tourists who are expected to attend the 2022 Fifa World Cup in their country, especially since so many will be unfamiliar with their laws.

According to Sky News, Laura was released after the hearing, and it is expected that she will be allowed to return to the Netherlands within the next few days.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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