Monday, July 22, 2013

UAE: Norwegian Woman Raped by Co-Worker Pardoned for Having Sex Outside Marriage

According to The Associated Press, Norwegian citizen Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, who was raped by a co-worker and who was subsequently sentenced to 16 months in prison for having sex outside of marriage was elated by the news on Sunday (July 21) that the UAE government was pardoning her and advising her that she was free to leave the Emirates, due largely to an outcry from Western nations. 

"I am very, very happy," Ms. Dalelv told AP. "I am overjoyed." 

Dalelv reported that she was raped in March by a co-worker, but was charged with having sex outside marriage after reporting the matter to the police. Her decision to go public about the sentence last week in a series of interviews appeared to put pressure on authorities in Dubai and tarnish the city's reputation as a cosmopolitan hub, including possible fallout on its high-profile bid for the 2020 World Expo. 

COMMENT: Although the UAE purports to be Westernized and cosmopolitan in every respect, as I have said in previous postings, the country is far from enlightened, as demonstrated by my numerous postings of the rape of foreign women, even by local police. 

Ms. Dalelv was working for an interior design firm and was in Dubai briefly for a business meeting when she was raped by a male co-worker. 

It is also unclear as to whether authorities would keep the 13-month sentence against Dalelv's alleged attacker, identified as a 33-year-old Sudanese man who was charged with consuming alcohol and having sex outside marriage. Hopefully, the Norwegian Foreign Minister will ensure that the Sudanese rapist will be forced to fulfill his 13-month-sentence, although it is a slap on the hand at best. 

In Oslo, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide posted a Twitter message: "Marte is released! Thanks to everyone who signed up to help." Barth Eide told the Norwegian news agency NTB that international media attention and Norway's diplomatic measures helped Dalelv, who was free on appeal with her next court hearing scheduled for early September. 

Norway also diplomatically reminded the UAE of obligations under UN accords to seriously investigate claims of violence against women. 

It should be noted that AP does not normally identify the victims of sexual crimes, although Ms. Dalelv went public to draw media attention to how poorly the UAE government investigated a forcible rape, strangely charging the victim with having sex outside of marriage.

Foreign visitors who have been victims of sexual crimes are advised to NOT contact local police until such time as the crime has been reported to their appropriate embassy or consulate FIRST. 

Norway's foreign minister said "very high level" Norwegian officials, including himself, had been in daily contact with counterparts in the UAE since the verdict against Dalelv. 

"While we are pleased that Marte can now return home to Norway, her pardon still suggests that she was somehow guilty of a crime," said Rori Donaghy, a spokesman for the Emirates Center for Human Rights. "Until laws are reformed, victims of sexual violence in the UAE will continue to suffer in this way and we will likely see more cases such as this one."