United Arab Emirates: Dubai Pardons Victim Who Received Prison Sentence After Reporting Rape
Friday, July 26, 2013 2:50 PM

Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum pardoned a Norwegian woman last week who had been sentenced to a 16-month prison sentence for various crimes relating to her sexual assault by a co-worker.  When she reported the rape to the police, however, she was detained for four days and charged with the crimes of sex outside of marriage, alcohol consumption, and making a false statement. In early July, a Dubai court sentenced the victim to 16 months in prison. The perpetrator was also convicted of sex outside of marriage and alcohol consumption, receiving a 13-month sentence.
The victim's conviction caused widespread outrage and was condemned by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and the Emirates Center for Human Rights. Norwegian officials worked with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to arrange for her pardon and noted that UAE is obliged under international law to investigate claims of rape and other forms of violence against women. Additionally, the Emirates Center for Human Rights noted that the pardon is troubling as it “suggests that she was somehow guilty of a crime.” The perpetrator also received a government pardon.


This is not the first time sexual assault reports in Dubai have resulted in convictions of the victims themselves. For example, CNN references three cases in which British and Australian women reported that they had been raped and found themselves charged with crimes. The UAE’s conservative laws on extra-marital sex and alcohol consumption, in combination with the extremely high standards of proof required to show that rape has occurred, discourage victims from reporting rapes and seeking legal redress.

Compiled from: Murphy, Brian, “Dubai Pardons Woman at Center of Rape Dispute,” Associated Press (22 July 2013); Goudling, Nicola, Jennifer Z. Deaton and Laura Smith-Spark, “Dubai Ruler Pardons Norwegian Woman Convicted After She Reported Rape,” CNN (22 July 2013).