A Dutch woman held in a Qatar jail for three months after she reported being drugged and raped at a nightclub was found guilty on Monday, June 13, of “illicit consensual fornication” and being “drunk in a public place.” She was also handed a one-year suspended sentence, given a three-year probation for the sex charge, and fined 3,000 Qatari Riyals ($823) for public drunkenness.
Syrian national Omar Abdullah Al-Hasan, who she had reported to have raped her, was sentenced by the same Qatari court to 100 lashes for illicit fornication and a further 40 lashes for the illegal consumption of alcohol. The two charges were identical to what she faced, though Al-Hasan, as a Muslim, is not allowed to drink at all under sharia law.
According to Aljazeera, a court official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, described the one-year suspended sentence as “lenient.” He explained what could happen to a woman if she reported she had been raped.
“Had she been a Muslim woman, she would have received at least five years in jail. No one can get out of such charges here in Qatar.”
The 22-year-old Dutch woman, reported to the press only as “Laura,” said she was drugged during a party in March at the Crystal Lounge nightclub at the W Doha Hotel. When she woke up in an unfamiliar apartment, she realized she had been raped.
On holiday at the time of the incident, Laura reported to Qatari police that she had been raped. She was arrested on March 14 and was jailed for committing sex outside of wedlock.
While Hasan acknowledged having sex with the Dutch woman, he insisted it had been consensual and that she had asked for money. Laura, however, reported being drugged at a Doha nightclub and raped in a strange flat.
On top of the reported suspended sentence and fine, the Dutch woman will be deported to the Netherlands within days. Critics point to the incident as a valuable lesson not to be raped in Qatar.
As reported by The New York Times, Laura’s lawyer, Brian Lokollo, clarified that she had gone to a hotel in Doha where alcohol is permitted. She felt unwell soon after taking the first sip of a drink and realized that something was wrong, he said. The next morning, she awoke in unfamiliar surroundings and realized she had been raped after her drink was spiked.
According to ABC News, The Dutch ambassador to Qatar, Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, said her embassy gave Laura assistance since she reported she was raped, and the young holidaymaker was expected to be deported to the Netherlands within days once the ruling was formalized. Van Eechoud said Laura had asked her to convey the message to the media and the public, to respect her privacy at this time.
“We will do everything we can to get her out of the country as soon as possible. Under the circumstances, Laura is doing fine.”
The Dutch embassy reported Laura’s situation to her family in the Netherlands and stayed in touch during her detention after having been raped. Laura’s mother, Marian, spoke to the Dutch news program EenVandaag of her daughter’s “nightmare” ordeal.
“I’m shaking in my legs. I can’t believe it. She has been sentenced. I don’t know for what but I don’t care. This is the best I could have wished for.”
Social media has gone haywire with netizens posting their protests over the perceived injustice. One of many tweets said this.
A similar sharia case happened in the United Arab Emirates in 2013. A 24-year-old Norwegian woman was jailed for 16 months for “indecent behaviour, perjury and alcohol consumption.” She had reported having been raped by her boss.
[Photo by AP Pool]