Friday, November 30, 2012

UAE: Abduction, Rape of British Expat Illustrates Justice Abroad Can Be Elusive

On July 6, 2012, a British expat, 28, employed by a Dubai-based company stopped by  the city's Rock Bottom Cafe in Regent Palace Hotel, where she consumed a number of glasses of wine.

As most of our regular readers know, I don't subscribe to the notion that expats drink alone while abroad, largely because foreigners, particularly those who are alone, are often taken advantage of. This applies to both men and women equally. 

I should also mention that the use of "date-rape" drugs are regularly used by opportunists worldwide whereby they surreptitiously drug their targets, although in this case there was no evidence of that.

The young woman, now severely impaired by drinking, hailed a taxi to return to her home. She was subsequently picked up by a Pakistani driver, 37, who noticed that she had been drinking. Shortly thereafter she fell asleep in back of the car.

Midway to her destination, the woman asked the driver to take her to another location, which he did.  She asked the driver to take her to an ATM, which he also did. Perhaps because of her condition, she returned to the taxi without any cash at which point she attempted to sit in the front driver's seat.

The driver, taken aback by the woman's action,and now realizing that she was very impaired, immediately removed his keys from the ignition to prevent the young woman from driving his vehicle. 

Simultaneously, A red Hyundai then pulled over and three young Iranian men in their 20s approached the driver, telling him they knew the woman, at which time they proceeded to pay the woman's taxi fare and take the British woman with them. 

COMMENT: By now, it is clear that the expat's stopping off for a few drinks after work quickly placed her into a high-risk environment that was well beyond her control, particularly given her impairment.  

The three men then took the woman to an apartment in Naif, whereby all three men took turns raping the indefensible woman.

This week, in court, the victim testified that she made repeated attempts to escape from the three men, but to no avail. She also testified that she remembers her assailants filming her while she was being raped. Her rapists dropped her off where she could get a taxi home.

Unfortunately, the victim did not report her victimization to her flat-mate, a Frenchwoman, 26, until the NEXT DAY, who told her not to shower or brush her teeth in order to retain physical evidence. Subsequently, her room-mate drove her to the local police station to report the incident.

By waiting until the next day, a blood test revealed that there was no evidence of alcohol in the victim's bloodstream. 

Two of her three assailants were arrested the day after the rape, which offered them ample opportunity to remove any of the woman's DNA from them.

N0t surprisingly, the two defendants, both 20, denied the rape charge,  accused the victim of fabricating the story that she was raped by her assailants and pleaded not guilty. The case has been continued until December 12.

Although this incident will be updated as new information becomes available, my suggestions to all foreigners include:

1. If you're planning on having more than one drink, TAKE a friend with you;

2. Always let a room-mate, friend or family know where you are;

3. Always carry the 24-hour after-hours number of your embassy or consulate on your speed-dialer on your mobile phone;

4. Never permit yourself to become severely impaired while alone;

5. Make the effort to build a network of expat friends in the community, so that you have a "dedicated driver," if you plan to drink;

6. Don't assume that all locals you encounter in the Middle East has your interests and welfare at heart. They don't;

7. If you are hurt or victimized, call your embassy or consulate immediately and seek advice;

8. After calling your embassy or consulate, call a close friend who can help you;

9. If you are hurt or victimized, report the matter to local police promptly;

10. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, don't shower, brush your teeth or wash;

11. Don't assume in the Middle East that you will be treated compassionately in the court system. You won't; and

12. Don't assume that your assailants will receive heavy prison terms. They won't; and

13. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, don't make any serious decisions until you have had an opportunity to seek the counsel of close friends and family.