Woman Reports Rape in Dubai, Gets 16-Month Sentence

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 20 2013 1:53 PM

Woman in Dubai Reports She Was Raped, Gets Sentenced to 16-Month Prison Term

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Part of the skyline of the city of Dubai

Photo by MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

A Norwegian woman was sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai after she reported she was raped. The charge? Having sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol and perjury, reports the BBC. Marte Deborah Dalelv, a 24-year-old interior designer who has lived in Qatar since 2011 was on a business trip to Dubai in March when she claims a co-worker sexually assaulted her. She reportedly ran to the hotel lobby and asked the staff to call the police. They asked her if she was sure she wanted to involve the police. “Of course I want to call the police,” she said, according to her account to the Associated Press. “That is the natural reaction where I am from.”

After undergoing a medical exam, Dalelv was detained on charges of having sex outside of marriage. She was later released following pressure from Norwegian officials but earlier this week she was sentenced to 16 months. Dalelv has appealed the decision. Her alleged attacker reportedly received a 13-month sentence, not for rape but rather for having extra-marital sex and drinking alcohol. This is hardly the first time foreigners are shocked to find out Dubai isn’t as cosmopolitan as it’s cracked out to be. Earlier, a British couple was behind bars for a month in 2010 after they kissed in public.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.