As It Happens

Tourist arrested, charged with extramarital sex in Dubai after reporting rape

A British woman has been charged with extramarital sex in Dubai after she reported to police that two men had raped her. As it Happens speaks with the head of a UK-charity who has been following her case.
A general view of the Jumeirah neighbourhood in Dubai, UAE December 9, 2015. Picture taken December 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Karim Sahib/Pool)

Read Story Transcript

A 25-year-old British woman has reportedly been charged with extramarital sex while on holiday in Dubai. It comes after she told local police that she had been raped by two British men at a hotel.

According to Radha Stirling — the founder of the UK-based charity Detained in Dubai — it's not clear whether these men are in Dubai or the UK. However, Stirling says the British Embassy "seems to have confirmed that the men were also arrested, in which case, whether it was rape or wasn't, the men will definitely be charged with some sort of a crime."

The woman remains in Dubai and has been released on bail.

For Stirling, it's a familiar story. In cases like this, she often recommends that foreigners don't report sexual assaults to police. Here's part of Stirling's conversation with As it Happens host Carol Off: 

CAROL OFF: What are the chances that [this woman] will be convicted for this extramarital sex charge and imprisoned? 

RADHA STIRLING: Based on our experience, I think the chances are actually quite unfortunately high. In the case of a Norwegian woman who was facing a similar situation, she benefited from the Norwegian government actually intervening in a diplomatic way. The Sheik pardoned her. So, she was free to go. That also took seven months. So, unless the UK government steps up and intervenes — or the UAE government reacts to this negative press that this case has been receiving — she could be looking at a very long time there.

Radha Stirling is the founder of the UK-based charity Detained in Dubai. (Facebook/Radha Stirling)
CO: You've been in contact with some of the woman's family and friends. What are they saying? How is she dealing with this?

RS: Well, I mean, they're obviously very frightened … It's a whole new legal system for them. They don't know what to expect and who to trust.

CO: How often does this happen that foreigners are arrested and charged in Dubai?

RS: It happens very often. We receive  inquiries from all sorts of reports of crimes every month — hundreds and hundreds. When we're talking about rape, it's very standard that you will be charged for sex outside of marriage. . .

CO: You have warned visitors to the country not to go to the police with these kinds of cases. If people don't do that, how can they ever get any justice?

"Ultimately, it comes down to a decision that they want to make — is it worth reporting this crime if I end up in jail for the next year?- Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai

RS: Yes, I mean, when it comes to sexual assault what I usually recommend to my clients is that they consider whether they do want to make a report. It's up to them personally because obviously in a situation like that you want your justice. But, they have to balance that against the fact that they could be imprisoned for a year and is that worth it. Ultimately, it comes down to a decision that they want to make — is it worth reporting this crime if I end up in jail for the next year?

CO: Of the people you have counselled, how often do they decide not to bother doing it because it's going to get them into trouble?

RS: Before these recent cases have been reported — and there have been several over the past five years that have been in the international press — people were more likely to report. But, also before that, most cases didn't go to press. It's only a recent phenomenon that these foreign nationals have been giving the press coverage. Since then, most people — I'd say around 90% of people — would decide not to report a crime if they have the knowledge in advance that it's going to lead to a potential arrest.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Radha Stirling.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now