Authorities in Qatar are reported to be preparing to deport a Dutch woman who was prosecuted for having sex while unmarried when she reported to police that she had been drugged and raped. She was fined roughly $1,000, essentially for reporting her own rape.
As eGlobal Travel Media puts it, the case highlights the “very different, sometimes almost medieval, laws that apply in some Middle Eastern countries.”
While millions of western tourists and travellers fly to and through the Gulf region each year, many may not realize that their legal rights differ markedly from what they are used to at home.
In the latest case, the 22 yr. old Dutch tourist said her drink was spiked at a Doha nightclub. She says she woke in a strange apartment and realized she had been raped.
That was in March. When she reported the crime to police, she was arrested, charged and convicted of having sex outside of marriage.
Her alleged rapist is also being held, though he says the sex was consensual. Reports say he has been sentenced to a severe flogging: 140 lashes for adultery and being drunk in public.
The BBC reported the woman had gone dancing at a hotel in Doha where alcohol was allowed, “but when she returned to the table after the 1st sip of her drink… she felt very unwell” and realized she had been drugged, her lawyer Brian Lokollo told Dutch broadcaster NOS-Radio1.
To add insult to injury, the woman may also be charged with an alcohol-related offence, news website Doha News reported.
A similar case in 2013 happened in Dubai, when a Norwegian woman received a 16 month prison sentence for perjury, extramarital sex and drinking alcohol after reporting to police she had been raped.
She was later pardoned and allowed to return to Norway.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Qatar and may lead to severe punishment, including imprisonment and fines. Sex outside of marriage is also illegal and foreigners have been imprisoned for having sex with people to whom they are not legally married.
Qatar is scheduled to host football/soccer’s World Cup in 2022. We know why that is happening due to all the FIFA scandal news.
Be aware of laws, and their enforcement, as well as traditions, customs and habits in any country you are visiting.