Trigger warning: This post discusses rape.
A 24 year old Norwegian woman staying in Dubai, Marte Deborah Dalelv, has been accused and convicted after reporting being raped to the police. The police’s initial response was to throw her in jail and take her money and passport. She was later released and has since appeared before a court in Dubai.
She has now been charged for having sex outside of marriage, for drinking alcohol and for bringing about false accusations of rape. She has been sentenced to 16 months in jail for this “crime” and is now wanted as she is not currently in their custody. She is in some form of hiding in Dubai unable to leave the country.
“It was a shock. I thought it was a joke at first. It appeared no one had believed anything of what I had told them. My whole world fell apart,” she says in a comment published in the Norwegian media today.
Reporting a rape is apparently a crime in these parts of the world. It speaks of the challenges all women face in these countries and why not only should attention be given to this case and collective efforts be made to get the charges dropped and get her home, but likewise should this practice be looked into for all women in similar situations. I strongly doubt she is the only one suffering such injustice.
According to a Skype-interview available on NRK’s website (in Norwegian) she was prepared for her visit to Dubai and was aware of the rules of conduct she would be exposed to, but she was not prepared for this. According to an interview with her father she only did what she thought was right after she was raped, she went to the police to report the crime. She was then charged for making false accusation, towards whom isn’t specified in the articles. Presumably the rapist.
According to a representative of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs this is due to “different legal practices in different countries. Especially when it comes to violence towards women.” That is a bit of an understatement. He makes it sound like this is a trivial matter of cultural and legal difference. It is much more than that. It is the conviction and possible imprisonment of an innocent human being. It’s a human rights violation and should be treated as such.
This is not the first time this happens either. In a similar story from May this year an Australian woman was jailed for 8 months for having “sex outside marriage”. She was drugged and gang raped by her own colleagues at the hotel where she worked.
Update July 22nd.
The charges against Marte Dalelv have been dropped today, She can go home.
Feature image: Private photo of Marte Deborah Dalelv from NRK.no