Dubai expats and tourists warned against reporting rape

Published:  18 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia, UK, Dubai, UAE, England
Following a number of incidents, expat and tourist women in Dubai and across the UAE are being advised not to report rape and sexual violence attacks

The warnings come after a 25-year old British national was arrested and charged with adultery after reporting her rape by two British tourists. The victim, at present released on bail after being held in custody since the attack, is to face trial by Sharia law, whilst the two rapist were allowed to return to the UK. Sharia punishments for extramarital sex include floggings, imprisonment, deportation and stoning to death.

Dubai is struggling to keep its self-assumed reputation as a modern, progressive, tolerant society, but long-stay expats are fully aware that foreign female victims of sexual attacks are regularly victimised by the police. One such, Australian Alicia Gale, spent eight months in prison after reported she had been violently raped and drugged.

The best that could happen after a rape report had been filed is that police will ignore it, thinking the victim had sex whilst drunk and regretted it in the morning. Basically the law in Dubai assumes Western women are ‘looking for it’, and drinking alcohol before the assault happened is taken as consenting to sex.

The UK-based charity Detained in Dubai is in contact with the accused woman and her family at home, and state the victim was raped by two men who filmed the attack as it took place. Founder and director of the charity Radha Stirling, told the media the case is one of the most disturbing examples of long-term abuse in Dubai.

The Dubai law firm advising the victim has estimated its fees at around £25,000, resulting in the victim’s family posting a crowdfunding petition which has raised £11,000 to date. Dubai is now a popular tourism destination known for its clubbing scene and easily available prostitution.

The charity’s warning against reporting rape or sexual violence is more to the point than the British Embassy’s plain listing of UAE’s sexual relations laws, although the embassy is ‘in touch with and supporting’ the victim and her family. Nowhere does the embassy state that, should a rape occur, the victim will bear the brunt of police investigation and charges under Sharia law.
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