In Dubai, Woman Goes to Police After Rape, Gets Prison Sentence Instead
Police arrested a Norwegian woman in Dubai for having extra-marital sex — after she'd called them to report being raped. And then she was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Really.
24-year-old Marte Deborah Dalelv claims she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker in March when she was on a business trip to the city. She reportedly called the police immediately following the incident, after which she was put under arrest, thrown in prison for four days and had her passport and money taken away.
"She called after four days in jail and told me that she had been raped and was in jail. I was totally shocked," her stepfather told press on Thursday.
On Wednesday, a Dubai court charged Dalelv with 16 months of incarceration for having had sex outside of marriage. To make things worse, her employer, billionaire Wissam Al Mana (who happens to be Janet Jackson's husband) then reportedly fired Dalelv for "unacceptable and improper behavior."
The case has drawn outrage from the West and especially in the social media world, with #releaseMarte trending on Twitter.
Norwegian diplomats were able to eventually secure her release from prison, and she has since been allowed to stay at the Norwegian Seamen's Center in Dubai while preparing her appeal, which is scheduled for early September.
Norway's Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide understandably condemned the sentencing, telling the press, "this verdict is highly problematic from a human rights perspective."
The law in the United Arab Emirates apparently requires either a confession or four adult male witnesses in order to convict a man of rape. (You might wonder what four men would idly watch a woman being sexually assaulted.)
Her alleged attacker didn't get away scott-free, though. He got a 13-month sentence — for out-of-wedlock sex and alcohol consumption. You know, for the really bad stuff.