British tourist 'gang-raped' in Dubai faces jail for having sex outside marriage

By Danny Boyle

The woman, aged 25, was reportedly charged after going to police about the alleged attack by two Britons in Dubai. Photo / 123rf
The woman, aged 25, was reportedly charged after going to police about the alleged attack by two Britons in Dubai. Photo / 123rf

A British tourist allegedly gang-raped in Dubai faces a prison sentence and needs £24,000 (NZ$42,200) for legal fees after police accused her of having "extra-marital sex".

The 25-year-old woman was reportedly arrested and charged after going to the authorities about the alleged attack by two Britons last month.

She is now on bail, but is not allowed to leave the country and is said to be "absolutely terrified" of being imprisoned for breaching strict laws on sex.

The woman, who cannot be identified, was on holiday in Dubai when her ordeal unfolded, The Sun reported.

She is said to have been lured into a hotel room by two British men, who are alleged to have both raped her while filming the attack.

The woman's family claimed the men flew home to Britain just hours later.

When she reported the attack to police, the alleged victim was then herself charged with having sex outside marriage.

In the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the most populated city, it is illegal for married couples to have sex outside of wedlock.

It is also against the law for a single person to have sex with someone who is married.

The alleged victim has been released by police on bail, but her family said she needs £24,000 (NZ$42,200) for legal fees.

"They have taken her passport as lawyers thrash it out," a family friend told the newspaper. "She is staying with an English family, but she is absolutely terrified.

"She went to the police as the victim of one of the worst ordeals imaginable, but she is being treated as the criminal."

The Foreign Office said it was working to support the woman and her family.

Dubai is popular with British holidaymakers, but has strict rules about sex and alcohol.

The Foreign Office has previously said that Britons are proportionately more likely to be arrested in the United Arab Emirates than any other country in the world.

Although its laws on alcohol and dress codes are more liberal than neighbouring "dry" states such as Saudi Arabia, all displays of public affection between men and women are banned and touching members of the opposite sex in public is severely frowned upon.

Most famously, two Britons accused of having sex on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai were jailed for three months in 2008, although the sentence was later suspended. They denied the charge.

A number of couples have also been jailed or threatened with prison for adultery or having sex while unmarried, including a woman in 2010 who had gone to police to allege she had been raped.

Eventually, she dropped the rape charges and produced a marriage certificate. She and her fiancé were allowed to go back to Britain.

Alcohol must be consumed in restaurants and bars attached to four or five-star hotels, or bought by non-Muslim residents who have a special alcohol licence from a small number of shops.

But laws against drinking or being drunk in public are strictly enforced, and driving with even traces of drink in the bloodstream brings an automatic prison sentence.

The city has also tried to tighten up its dress code, which insists that, apart from on the beach or by swimming pools, shoulders and legs above the knee should be covered for men and women.

Etiquette in Dubai

Travellers to Dubai, and other Middle Eastern countries, cannot behave as they would in the Med. Drinking, or being drunk, is not permitted in public, rude gestures and swearing are likely to see you deported, and women are expected to cover up unless they're at the beach.

Public displays of affection are also frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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