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DUBAI: Police dismiss Briton's rape allegations, arrest her on charges of premarital sex

January 13, 2010 |  7:39 am

Dubai courts When a distraught British woman went to the police in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to report she had been raped, she probably expected authorities to carry out a full criminal investigation and, hopefully, bring the offender to justice.

Dubai, after all, sells itself as a modern oasis paradise to the tourists and skilled expatriates on whom it depends.

But the questioning took a turn. Instead she and her fiance found themselves the subjects of an entirely different investigation. Police arrested the couple and charged them with having premarital sex after dismissing the rape allegations.

The woman, 23, and her 44-year-old boyfriend, both from London, were visiting Dubai as tourists and had rented a hotel room together. They were reportedly celebrating their recent engagement in the hotel bar when the woman became tipsy and went to the restroom, where she says she was raped by a waiter who followed her there.

Khamis Muzinah, deputy commander of the Dubai police, told Reuters the police "didn't find any proof that anything happened in the bathroom," but British tabloid the Sun reported that authorities did not even administer a rape kit until after a British Embassy official intervened.

British news media have reported that the woman is British of Pakistani origin, and her cellmate told the Sun that her Muslim origins may have prompted harsher treatment from disapproving police.

"She was trying to report the rape but soon realized the policemen were more interested in how often she has sex with her boyfriend," the cellmate told the Sun. "They even asked if she did just normal sex or anything else in bed."

This is the second high-profile case involving British citizens allegedly violating the emirate's strict laws that draw heavily from Islamic jurisprudence. In 2008, a British couple were sentenced to a three-month jail term for having sex on a beach.

News of this latest case coincides with the acquittal of Abu Dhabi royal Sheik Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan on torture and rape charges, contributing to an overall sense of unease among expatriates working in Dubai who fear the justice system is stacked against them.

"It is a super-crappy news day in the UAE," one American expatriate wrote on the blog Life in Dubai, citing Issa's acquittal and the premarital sex case against the woman. "Yikes. I’m sick of all of this."

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo credit: Gulf News

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