Dubai: Don't Punish Women for Being Raped

  • by: Lynn Hamilton
  • recipient: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai

Dubai's dramatic skyline certainly looks like a hub of modern industry and enlightenment. But women who work and play there are finding it more like a medieval witch trial.

Marte Deborah Dalelv, an interior designer from Norway, was in Dubai on business when she was raped by a colleague. When she went to the police for justice, she found herself on trial for having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol. Then she was sentenced to 16 months in prison. In the wake of media furor, she has  been "forgiven" by the emirate's Sheikh. Her rapist has also been fully pardoned and will serve no jail time.

And here's the worst part, folks. Dalelv's story is NOT a fluke. Other rape victims in Dubai are similarly punished for being victims of violence. Dubai law basically says that a woman not wearing a chastity belt should leave the house at her own risk. Clearly, this sends the message to would-be rapists that women are easy and available targets for any kind of abuse. Tell Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to protect women in his country against sexual violence.

We the undersigned are outraged at the treatment of Marte Deborah Dalelv.

Dalelv went to Dubai believing she would be doing business in a modern, civilized city. Instead, she was raped by a fellow professional. Her trust was further betrayed when she went to the police and found that she was now the suspect. Charged with drinking and having sex outside marriage, Dalelv was sentenced to 16 months prison time for having been the victim of violence.

Clearly, this heinous abuse of women has to stop! Unless you plan to protect the women of your realm as well as women visiting, you may as well hang a sign at your airport that says, "Abandon hope of 21st-century justice, all ye who enter here." We demand that you implement better laws for the protection of women!

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