Briton says she was raped in the UAE - but gets fined for drinking

Loveday Morris reports from Dubai as anger rises over plight of woman forced to pay £169

Dubai

A British woman who was allegedly kidnapped and gang raped by three men in Dubai has been prosecuted for drinking without a licence, throwing a spotlight on the United Arab Emirates’ archaic legal system, which rights groups say does not do enough to protect victims of sexual assault.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claims she was raped repeatedly by the three men who filmed the attack after they lured her into their car as she returned from a night out with friends.

After reporting her ordeal to the police, the 28-year-old found herself in the dock because she admitted she had been drinking earlier that night.

Human Rights Watch has called on the UAE to improve its judicial practices for rape victims, saying those reporting crimes too often end up being charged themselves.

Lulled into a false sense of security by the drinking culture encouraged in the five-star hotels that line the shores of the oil-rich Emirate, expatriates often find themselves on the wrong side of the country’s strict laws. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says British nationals are more likely to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.

However, the legal system’s treatment of victims of sexual crimes has drawn particular condemnation.

“In the UAE, there have been multiple cases over the past few years where the state has charged women with criminal offences after they have reported rape,” said Samer Muscati, a researcher in the women right’s division of Human Rights Watch.

“When it comes to seeking justice for sexual violence, women in the UAE still face formidable and often insurmountable barriers.”

In 2010, the case of an 18-year-old Emirati – who was sentenced to a year in prison for illicit sex after she reported that she had been gang raped by six men – drew international outrage. Dr Rima Al Sabban, an assistant professor at Zayed University who specialises in women’s issues, said that the system can discourage women from reporting rape.

“Potential rapists can take advantage of this, knowing that the woman is in a weak position and might be afraid of being prosecuted,” she said. “Women become double victims.”

The woman in this latest case had been drinking for six hours at the Rock Bottom Cafe, a local bar known for its cheap drinks, with its own kebab kiosk for exiting revellers. A Pakistani taxi driver who picked the woman up at 3am testified that she was “totally drunk” and fell asleep on the back seat. The woman, who works in a managerial position, asked to stop at a cash point, but after failing to withdraw money she was unable to pay the fare when she reached her building in the upscale waterfront community of Jumeirah Beach Residence.

The taxi driver said a red Hyundai then pulled up, and two men got out. They said they knew the woman and paid the fare.

“I saw her sitting in the front seat next to the driver. After that I drove away,” he was reported as saying. The woman says she was then taken to an apartment where the men repeatedly raped her, dragging her back as she tried to escape.

“I noticed one of them filming me and I begged them to let me go but they ignored my pleas and laughed at me,” she told the court, according to The National newspaper.

The victim’s 26-year-old French flatmate said the woman returned home at around 8.30am and appeared “confused”. She took her to a police station to report the assault.

Two 20-year-old Iranian men are on trial for the assault, while the third has not been traced. They deny the charges.

The men’s defence lawyer claimed that the woman had fabricated the claims, saying: “She watches a lot of action movies”.

First Corporal Marwan Salem, who investigated the incident, said one of the defendants had said he had been scared of kidnapping “a British woman” but had been convinced by his co-defendant that she would be too drunk to recognise them, Emirates 24/7 reported.

The woman says she drank three glasses of wine. Drinking without a liquor licence is technically illegal in Dubai, though the document is never asked for at bars and hotels. She was fined 1,000 dirhams (£169).

Britons who fell foul of UAE laws

Veins Acors, 35, and Michelle Palmer, 37, were charged with unmarried sex and public indecency after having sex on Jumeirah Beach in July, 2008. The couple were sentenced to three months in jail, which was later suspended on appeal.

Ayman Najafi, 24, and Charlotte Lewis, 25, were each sentenced to one month in prison in 2010 after being accused of kissing on the lips in a restaurant. The pair maintained they exchanged a peck on the cheek solely as a greeting.

Businessman Steven Sherriff, 43, was jailed for six months after being accused of pinching a woman’s backside in a bar. Sherriff successfully appealed the verdict but was left in financial ruin after amassing legal bills of up to £70,000.

Rebecca Blake, 29, and Conor McRedmond, 27, were jailed for three months and fined over £1,000 after allegedly having drunken sex in the back of a taxi. The couple denied the charges of unlawful sex and DNA tests later confirmed their innocence. ALEX WARD

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 by Georgia O'Keeffe
art
Sport
Robin van Persie leaves the field at the King Power Stadium last Sunday
football
Arts and Entertainment
tvPresenter back after daughter's Halloween accident
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as John Watson and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
tv

Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year

News
people

London 'needs affordable housing'

News
In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.
news

Arts and Entertainment
Timeshift: The Ladybird Books Story (9pm BBC4 Sun 22 Dec)
BooksLadybird drops branding books for boys and girls
Arts and Entertainment
music Band accidentally drops four-letter description at concert
Life and Style
tech
News
peopleIan Thorpe addresses Ricky Martin rumours
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager - Slough

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Advisor

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a global m...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines