A UK-based charity has warned that British tourists and expats in Dubai and across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should not report incidents of rape after a woman who was allegedly gang raped was arrested and charged with “extramarital sex”.
Detained in Dubai, an organisation that assists people who have become victims of injustice in the UAE, has warned against reporting rape or other crimes in the country because of the “manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations” and the “racist” preconceptions held against Western tourists.
Radha Stirling, founder of the charity, said that following the recent case – as well as a number of other shocking incidents in recent years where rape victims have been detained in the UAE – she advises British tourists not to report crime.
Ms Stirling told The Independent: “We get people contacting us asking whether they should report a crime and – whether it be a rape or anything else – I often say no. Absolutely not.
“It’s about the laws for one, but it also comes down to the application of the law. Police there do get a lot of rape claims that are false, many of which come from disgruntled prostitutes who retaliate by reporting false criminal claims.
“Because of this the police are wary of false accusations, so when a report does come in they think, ‘Oh, maybe the girl was just drunk and then she regretted it the next day’.
“It’s also linked to the fact that tourism in the UAE has increased and there is a big clubbing scene. People go there to have a good time and the country promotes this. But they do assume women are ‘looking for it’.
“There is the social perception that if a woman drinks alcohol, she has consented to it. And there’s also a racist mentality of thinking, ‘She’s British so she was probably drunk and asking for it’.”
Ms Stirling added that she personally would not report a rape in the UAE, saying: “There’s so much manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations over there – I wouldn’t report a rape there if I were raped myself.”
The latest case involves the arrest of a 25-year-old woman who was on holiday in Dubai in October when she was allegedly attacked by two British men, who allegedly befriended her and lured her to their hotel room before pinning her down and raping her while recording it on a phone.
When the woman reported the rape at a police station, she was arrested for breaking Emirati laws against extramarital sex, while her attackers have since flown home to the UK.
Her passport has reportedly been confiscated and she is prohibited from leaving the country, essentially putting under “country arrest” while she awaits legal proceedings against her.