A 24-year-old Qatar-based expat who reported being raped while on a business trip to Dubai has been sentenced by a court there to 16 months in jail for having extramarital sex, among other charges.
Norwegian Marte Deborah Dalelv is free on appeal, but has been under a travel ban and unable to leave the UAE since March, when she reported the rape to Dubai police, her friends have told Doha News.
Following her sentencing this week, Dalelv has gone public with her story, and friends have started a Facebook page to put pressure on the UAE government to release her. She has also told friends she wants her story to be a cautionary tale for other young women considering moving to the Middle East.
Dalelv, a decorator who has since lost her job with furniture and design company The One, had been drinking with friends in Dubai one night during her trip. According to a friend, she asked a colleague to walk her to her hotel room, which is where he raped her.
Norwegian newspaper VG, who spoke to Dalelv, reports:
The morning after I woke up being raped, my clothes were taken off and I was lying on my stomach, Dalelv explains.
When she went to the police to report the assault, they didn’t believe her. Two hours after being raped the police asked me: “Did you come to us because you didn’t like it?” I then realized that they did not believe me, she says.
The newspaper added that the decorator was initially detained in a prison cell for four days after reporting her attack.
Dalelv’s ordeal has drawn condemnation from Norwegian officials, with Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide saying:
“This verdict flies in the face of our notion of justice. It appears very odd that a person who reports rape is convicted for crimes that in our part of the world are not considered crimes.”
Dalelv, who has lived in Qatar for two years, also faces charges of perjury and drinking alcohol “without permission.”
Her colleague, who she said attacked her, was sentenced to 13 months in jail for having sex outside of marriage, and has also lost his job in Doha, one friend told Doha News.
Dalelv, who has been staying at the Norwegian Sea Man’s church in Dubai, will return to court in September for her appeal.