International Law

Woman jailed for extramarital sex after complaining of rape is pardoned, along with alleged attacker


A Norwegian woman who was stunned to be jailed for 16 months for having extramarital sex after complaining to authorities in Dubai that she had been raped has received a pardon.

Marte Deborah Dalelv, who authorized public use of her name, told the Associated Press she is “overjoyed” to be cleared by order of the country’s ruler. She said her alleged attacker, a 33-year-old man sentenced to 13 months for the same crime, was also pardoned.

However, the incident highlights a contrast between the standards imposed under the country’s Muslim legal code and traditions and the standards to which many foreigners in the country on business are accustomed and falsely assume must be in force elsewhere. A rape charge, in particular, may require multiple male witnesses to obtain a conviction, the article says.

Although more leeway may be given to foreigners than local residents, some observers are calling for Dubai and other countries in the United Arab Emirates to change their laws to encourage victims of sex crimes to report attacks rather than discourage them to do so.

“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, which is based in London. “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.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com (2008): “UK Couple Gets 3 Months in Dubai Beach Sex Case”

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