Middle East Civil and Criminal Justice Specialists
Rape Victims Jailed
A 25 year old Norwegian woman on a business trip to Dubai was raped. When she reported the incident to police, they through her in a police cell and charged her with “having sex outside marriage”.
The Norwegian Consulate negotiated her bail and she is living under the protection of the Norwegian Sailor’s Church until her sentencing this week.
Despite Dubai being a modern destination, the legal system is still very much influenced by Sharia law, where a man can not be convicted of rape without four witnesses testimony. While there are isolated incidences of rape convictions, it is rare.
Over the past few years, we have received several complaints from victims of sexual assault and rape, being victimised again by the authorities. All rape victims, have spent time in prison, a second and even more traumatic assault on the victim. Where a victim of crime needs support, the UAE authorities are failing drastically and leaving scars on the victims, that will last a lifetime.
A French teenage boy was gang raped in Dubai and charged with homosexuality. Roxanne Hillier was unjustly charged with sex outside marriage, even though the hospital invasive examinations proved she had not had sex. Australian woman Alicia Gail was jailed for eight months for “sex outside marriage” after reporting being drugged and gang raped.
Even after these cases were heavily reported and the authorities severely criticised internationally, it would seem no changes have been made within the prosecutors office or the judicial system to protect rape victims.
It is profound that the perpetrator of a crime is left unpunished by the law, while the victim is punished again and again.
We will be writing to the UAE authorities for the comment and will report their response.
In 2008, we received a report from a distressed father regarding the imprisonment of his teenage son who was gang raped by several men in Dubai. Following this violent attack, police imprisoned the victim for homosexual acts. When this boy reported the attack to police, they alleged he was making up a story to conceal his homosexuality, a crime in the UAE and he was treated as a criminal. After the victim was treated poorly and held in custody, his family are relieved that the rapists have been convicted and sentenced to 15 years.
While 15 years may seem a long time, these were repeat offenders. Not only was the victim raped by three men. He was then treated like the criminal & raped by someone who was knowingly infected with the AIDS virus. What an ordeal!
It seems even after the publicity surrounding this case, the police did not learn their lesson…
An Australia lady reportedly was brutally “date raped”. The last thing she remembered was someone putting ice in her drink. She awoke in her room , bruised and with broken ribs. After reporting the incident to police they, rather than investigating her allegations and seeking her attackers, arrested her for adultery and jailed her. She was held for 2 months before her Court data and it was not explained to her why she was held. She later found out she was being prosecuted for adultery. With a developing legal system, she was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
This is far from unique with many other reports of rape reports turning into adultery charges including a French woman who was gang raped in 2003. Her report to police ended with an adultery conviction.
In January 2010, a British woman claimed she was “taunted by police” after reporting a rape. She says she was treated like a criminal and told that if she didn’t drop the charges, she’d be accused of sex outside marriage. The only thing she could do is sign a document saying she wasn’t raped and leave.
What kind of draconian criminal justice system forces a rape victim to sign a document saying the rape never happened? The answer is Dubai’s legal system. This kind of duress from the police is something Detained in Dubai sees over and over again. The forced signings of both confessions and statement withdrawals. A country’s laws and enforcement and crucial and critical to the operation of a successful country. Until such fundamentals are in credible order, the country itself is in chaos, everywhere.
For a victim of rape to fear adultery charges is an unacceptable failing on behalf of the police department and judicial system. How many rapes are going unreported? How many rapists are taking advantage of this stone age system?
We urge the UAE to review its police processes to provide a more
supportive process to victims of rape, to ensure they do not feel like they are the ones who are the criminals. Reports of rape need to increase before rape numbers decrease. It’s clear at this point that the UAE does not want to report crimes, especially rape.