A UK charity is warning British tourists and expats in Dubai not to report rape to police after a British woman was arrested and charged with “extramarital sex” after telling authorities she had been gang raped.
Detained in Dubai, an organization that assists people who have become victims of injustice in the Islamic nation of United Arab Emirates (UAE), says rape should not be reported in the country because of “racist” preconceptions held against Western tourists and “manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations.”
“We get people contacting us asking whether they should report a crime and – whether it be a rape or anything else – I often say no. Absolutely not,” Radha Stirling, the founder of the charity, told the Independent.
“It’s about the laws for one, but it also comes down to the application of the law. Police there do get a lot of rape claims that are false, many of which come from disgruntled prostitutes who retaliate by reporting false criminal claims.
“Because of this, the police are wary of false accusations, so when a report does come in they think, ‘Oh, maybe the girl was just drunk and then she regretted it the next day.’
“It’s also linked to the fact that tourism in the UAE has increased and there is a big clubbing scene. People go there to have a good time and the country promotes this. But they do assume women are ‘looking for it’.
“There is the social perception that if a woman drinks alcohol, she has consented to it. And there’s also a racist mentality of thinking, ‘She’s British so she was probably drunk and asking for it.’”
Stirling said she would not report a rape in the UAE herself.
“There’s so much manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations over there – I wouldn’t report a rape there if I were raped myself.”
The latest case involves the arrest of a 25-year-old woman who was on holiday in the UAE, where the alleged gang rape by two British men took place last month. The men allegedly befriended her and lured her into their hotel room before pinning her down and raping her while recording it on a phone.
Upon reporting the rape to local police, the woman was allegedly arrested for breaking Emirati law against extramarital sex, and faces years in prison or severe physical punishment, including flogging and stoning to death, if convicted.
The woman’s passport was reportedly confiscated by authorities before she was released on bail, while her alleged attackers have since flown home to Birmingham.
The charges have been confirmed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Speaking of the case, Stirling said it was likely the woman would be detained.
“It’s quite possible she’ll be charged and held. If the assailants have left the country the police have obviously got no counter evidence. They could just factually go on sex outside of marriage if there is no evidence of an assault.
“In 2008 a woman in Fujairah, who had broken ribs and evidence of violence from being raped after her drink was spiked, was charged with sex outside of marriage and held in the country for eight months, so it’s very possible this woman will be too,” Stirling said.
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