A Queensland woman spent eight months in a United Arab Emirates jail for adultery after complaining to police about being drugged and raped by co-workers.
Alicia Gali, 29, yesterday detailed her harrowing ordeal after filing a Queensland lawsuit against the five-star international resort where the attack allegedly took place in 2008.
Warning other women against going to the UAE, Ms Gali said she endured eight months in a crowded prison room with up to 30 other women after she complained to authorities of being raped.
“These countries don’t have the same laws as us. You can end up in serious trouble,” she said.
Apart from her family, no one in Australia knew Ms Gali had been jailed for adultery and illegal drinking, because Australian embassy staff advised her and her family not to go to the media.
“It was just traumatising,” she said.
“Everything that happened was the worst thing that somebody could go through.”
“You’re just totally alone in a foreign country, with no assistance from your employer or the embassy.”
Ms Gali, a salon manager at the resort, said she had been in the staff bar, where she was told she could legally drink, when another employee put ice in her drink.
She said it was the last thing she remembered before waking the next day in her room with painful injuries.
“I didn’t know what had happened. I was traumatised, I felt ill. I didn’t even remember getting there or what had happened,” Ms Gali said.
She said it was only when she took herself to hospital did she realise she had been sexually assaulted.
Later she learned she had been heard screaming and security guards had found men hiding in her room, where she was naked and unconscious.
When she was discharged from hospital she was asked to go to a police station to make a statement and then speak in front of a judge.
“I realised when I was put in a police car that I was being taken to jail.”
Ms Gali said she was never warned by her UAE employers that she could be charged with adultery and face prison if she complained of being raped, without having four adult male Muslim witnesses.
“I didn’t even know what the charges were until five months into my sentence,” Ms Gali said.
Three of the men Ms Gali claimed sexually abused her were jailed, but for adultery and not rape.
After serving eight months of a 12-month sentence, Ms Gali was pardoned and released and flew home in March 2009.
Since then she has been treated for post traumatic stress disorder, suffered claustrophobia and flashbacks.
“I felt depressed, angry and confused,” she said.
“I was the victim. I’d had something wrong done to me and I was being punished.”
Law firm Maurice Blackburn on Thursday filed a damages claim in the Supreme Court in Brisbane, alleging Ms Gali’s employer failed to warn her of the risk of being drugged, raped, charged with adultery and jailed if she complained.
Solicitor Melissa Payne said it was a complex legal case and they would consult experts in UAE law.
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