British woman charged with extramarital sex in Dubai after reporting her gang rape

By @chelean on
A man sits near a beach in Jumeirah in Dubai April 4, 2010.
A man sits near a beach in Jumeirah in Dubai April 4, 2010. Reuters/Jumana ElHeloueh

A British woman who reported to the police that she had been gang-raped has been charged with extramarital sex in Dubai. The 25-year-old tourist claims she was attacked by two UK men last month. However, instead of helping her, cops accused her of having sex outside marriage, an offence punishable by jail in the United Arab Emirates.

The woman is facing a long jail term for breaching the country’s strict Sharia laws on sex. She was on a five-day vacation with a relative and was about to go on a round-the-world trip when she was allegedly attacked. She was joined for a drink by two Brits at the hotel where they were all staying and then apparently was lured into a room.

According to her family, the men took turns to rape her while filming their act. They are understood to have flown back to Birmingham, UK, five hours later. The woman, however, was detained in UAE after she reported the incident to the police.

“They have taken her passport as lawyers thrash it out. She is staying with an English family but she is absolutely terrified,” a family friend told The Sun. “She went to the police as the victim of one of the worst ordeals imaginable but she is being treated as the criminal.”

The alleged victim is believed to be married, although it is unclear if she has separated from her husband.

“We know who the culprits are, but as far as I’m aware, West Midlands Police aren’t doing anything,” her mum, who is in Cheshire, told the Sun.

The UK Foreign Office said it was aware of the case and is working to support the woman.

UAE Sharia laws on extramarital sex

In the UAE, Sharia laws prohibit sex outside of marriage, regardless of the relationship of the partners involved. Those who are found guilty may be sentenced to flogging or prison terms. It is also illegal for unmarried couples to live together or share the same hotel room.

The woman isn’t the first one who was imprisoned for reporting her rape. According to a BBC Arabic documentary in 2015, hundreds of women, some pregnant and others domestic servants from other countries, are jailed in the UAE every year. Both men and women could be imprisoned for having sex outside marriage; however, the women are left most vulnerable in reality.