World

No Charges Against Woman Who Reported Rape In Dubai

| by Nik Bonopartis

After an international outcry, charges against a British woman who says she was raped in Dubai have been dropped -- but at the expense of prosecution, as Dubai authorities say they've determined the incident was consensual.

The 25-year-old woman was planning to stop briefly in the emirate en route to a vacation in Australia when she said she was "gang raped" by two other British nationals in October, U.K.'s The Independent reported.

But when the woman went to police to report the alleged rape, Dubai authorities charged her with a crime -- having extramarital sex -- and took her into custody.

Human rights groups condemned the emirate's authorities, and the British consulate tried to intervene after news broke of the woman's arrest, with Detained In Dubai founder Radha Stirling telling CNN the incident was "tremendously disturbing."

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The legal advice group and others lobbied for the woman's release, and on Nov. 22, Dubai officials announced that the woman was released from custody, she'd had her passport returned to her, and was free to leave the city -- along with the men she accused of rape, who would not be charged.

In a statement, the Dubai Public Prosecutor said that after interviewing the woman and the two British men she accused of rape, it had determined "the act happened with the consent of the three parties in question."

"A video obtained from the mobile phone of one of the suspects detailing the act was a key evidence that supported this conclusion," prosecutors said.

As a part of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is considered more liberal than its neighbors in the Muslim world. Alcohol is legal within the city of 2.6 million, and expats make up the bulk of the citizenry. But traditional values remain, and visitors can be charged or expelled for certain sexual activity, whether consensual or not.

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Investigators in Dubai are often quick to dismiss rape allegations, said Faisal Alzarooni, a criminal defense lawyer who has represented other women prosecuted under the country's "extramarital sex" law.

"The police or prosecution may have traces, but not necessarily evidence, that it was consensual sex," Alzarooni told CNN. "For example, if the rape was in a hotel room, if they saw on CCTV cameras that [the accuser and the alleged attackers] walked together out of the room, they might think this is not rape in this case."

Earlier, the alleged victim told the U.K.'s The Sun that she believed prosecutors and police in Dubai would reconsider their positions. Most media organizations do not name the victims or alleged victims of rape unless they decide to speak publicly about their cases.

“I have every respect for the United Arab Emirates and its laws and have faith that justice will be done," she said, according to The Sun. "The truth will out."

Sources: News.com.au, The SunCNN (2), The Independent / Photo credit: Diego Delso/​Wikimedia Commons

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