DUBAI: British woman jailed after reporting rape says she was forced to drop charges
A 23-year-old British woman who was arrested after going to the Dubai police to report a sexual assault says she was not allowed to leave the country until she signed a paper saying the rape never happened, according to an exclusive interview published Wednesday in the racy British tabloid, the Sun.
"I obviously still believe I was raped, but the only way out was to sign something saying I wasn't, so I did it," said the woman, who said she contemplated suicide while awaiting the outcome of her case.
The story first came to light four weeks ago when the woman, a Londoner of Pakistani origin, and her 44-year-old boyfriend, were jailed for having premarital sex and for drinking without a permit after they went to police to report the woman had been raped in the bathroom of their five-star hotel.
"I'd just told them I had been raped, but they were asking me how many times I had sex in the hotel room with my boyfriend and what positions I preferred," she told the Sun.
"They were sniggering. I was crying. I felt utterly humiliated. I was treated like a criminal, like filth."
The couple had been drinking in the bar of the hotel where they were staying, The Address, an international luxury hotel with rooms costing up to $1,600 a night.
The woman reportedly became intoxicated and went to the restroom, where, she says, she was raped by a waiter who followed her there.
Police officials claimed at the time they "did not find any proof" of rape, but British media reported that a rape kit was not administered until the British Embassy intervened. The woman was also reportedly denied the morning-after pill.
The couple was barred from leaving the country and moved from a local jail to a different hotel to wait. Four weeks later, the woman says, the police offered her a deal: sign a paper denying the rape happened and they would drop the charges against the couple.
The Times of London had previously reported that the charges were dropped after the couple produced a certificate showing they had been married since November. The Sun referred to the man as her boyfriend but noted that they had been married in a Muslim religious ceremony.
Now, back in Britain, the woman has split from her boyfriend and is awaiting the results of an HIV test. The Address did not return calls for comment by late Wednesday afternoon.
"It's been hell," the Sun quoted the woman as saying. "I'm trying to rebuild my life one day at a time."
-- Meris Lutz in Beirut
Upper photo: Dubai Courts building. Credit: Gulf News
Lower image: The website of The Address Downtown Dubai, the hotel where the woman claims she was raped. Credit: Meris Lutz