After a British woman locked up when she reported she was raped by two British men in Dubai, a U.K.-based charity has warned rape survivors to avoid reporting such crimes in the Emirati city.
While the alleged perpetrators escaped home to Birmingham, the woman was locked up after being accused of having sex outside of marriage. She was subsequently released on bail but she needs £24,000 (nearly $30,000) for legal fees, according to The Sun.
The November incident wasn’t the first alleged rape case in the oil-rich nation in which the woman reporting the assault was penalized instead of getting a fair trial.
In 2008, an Australian woman was jailed for eight months for committing adultery after reporting she was drugged and raped by her co-workers.
In 2013, a Norwegian woman, Marte Dalelv, went to a police station after being raped while intoxicated by another worker, a Sudanese man. She was instead charged with the crime of sex outside of marriage, as well as consuming alcohol.
Dalelv was released on bail, and then later pardoned by the Emirati government following global outcry over the incident.
Noticing the disturbing pattern of victim blaming by the Emirati government, Detained in Dubai, a U.K. charity, has advised British nationals in UAE to not report incidents of rape due to "manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations" and "racist" preconceptions about foreign, especially Western, tourists and expatriates.
"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, 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.'"
Over the past decade, Dubai has undergone a remarkable transformation. It is nos one of the world’s top cosmopolitan cities and tourism destinations.
However, despite all its progress, the city, and the UAE in general, remains a conservative Islamic country where laws like sex outside of marriage are still enforced — laws that enable rapists and silence rape survivors.