Dubai, UAE (GPA) – A British woman reported her alleged gang rape in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only to end up being charged with ‘extramarital sex’ as her attackers were released on bail.
The victim works as an IT consultant in the united gulf kingdoms, which is primarily populated by people not originally from the Islamic theocracy. Despite the fact that Emirates only make up around 11% of the population, the country is still governed under strict Islamic law similar to that of their neighbor, Saudi Arabia.
The unnamed woman was allegedly raped by two other U.K. expats. She reported the incident to the authorities in Dubai but then was later served with the charge of extramarital sex and has to be bailed out of police custody. Her passport was seized as she tried to board a flight for Australia, so she can’t leave the country while awaiting trial.
The two men – Louis Harris and David Butlin – were also arrested as they tried to board a flight back to the U.K. It is unclear at this time whether they still have their passports. What is known is that the two have already posted bail and are continuing their vacation; having posted photographs since the incident, of themselves poolside with a British reality TV star.
All three of the Britons are receiving legal aid from the British foreign office in Dubai. The men are charged with ‘sex outside of marriage’ and the crime of ‘being drunk’ although alcohol is legal in Dubai. The two men and the alleged victim all could face up to one year in prison.
A representative of a U.K. non-profit that lobbies to change strict laws in The UAE says there is an inherent bias against women and even more so British women in the country. Radha Stirling, founder of the group, Detained in Dubai and told the Daily Mail that “Recent cases… show that it is still not safe for victims to report these crimes to the police without the risk of suffering a double punishment.”
The charity seems altruistic on face value but recently they also issued a statement warning women to just not report rapes that happen in Dubai. Stirling also made a statement to the Independent that “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.” Striking says police are likely biased against rape claims allegedly due to “prostitutes in the country constantly making false claims”, which seems odd if the prostitutes would know they would also be subject to criminal charges.
The UAE is home to offices of hundreds, possibly thousands of western businesses and as the global economy has grown, so has their connection to western powers. This is another country similar to Saudi Arabia except that instead of the west relying on a resource coming out of the country – like oil – the country relies heavily on western investment coming in.
There are plenty of financial powerhouse cities around the world where the west could do business but they continue to keep up the policy of appeasing the Gulf states. Dubai needs western investment more than the west needs Dubai as a location and if this is the kind of treatment western workers are going to be given, then maybe it’s time to reconsider this relationship.