Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2013 Contents A29
Saturday, July 20, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
DUBAI---A Norwegian woman
sentenced to 16 months in jail in
Dubai for having sex outside mar-
riage after she reported an alleged
rape said yesterday she decided
to speak out in hopes of drawing
attention to the risks of outsiders
misunderstanding the Islamic-
influenced legal codes in this cos-
The case has drawn outrage from
rights groups and others in the
West since the 24-year-old interior
designer was sentenced Wednesday.
It also highlights the increasingly
frequent tensions between the
United Arab Emirates international
atmosphere and its legal system,
which is strongly influenced by
Islamic traditions in a nation where
foreign workers and visitors greatly
"I have to spread the word. ...
After my sentence we thought,
How can it get worse? " Marte
Deborah Dalelv told The Associated
Press in an interview at a Norwe-
gian aid compound in Dubai where
she is preparing her appeal sched-
uled for early September.
Dalelv, who worked for an inte-
rior design firm in Qatar since 2011,
claims she was sexually assaulted
by a co-worker in March while she
was attending a business meeting
She said she fled to the hotel
lobby and asked for the police to
be called. The hotel staff asked if
she was sure she wanted to involve
the police, Dalelv said.
"Of course I want to call the
police," she said. "That is the natural
reaction where I am from."
Dalelv said she was given a med-
ical examination seeking evidence
of the alleged rape and underwent
a blood test for alcohol. Such tests
are commonly given in the UAE
for alleged assaults and in other
cases. Alcohol is sold widely across
Dubai, but public intoxication can
The AP does not identity the
names of alleged sexual assault vic-
tims, but Dalelv went public vol-
untarily to talk to media.
Dalelv was detained for four days
after being accused of having sex
outside marriage, which is outlawed
in the UAE although the law is not
actively enforced for tourists as well
as hundreds of thousands of West-
erners and others on resident visas.
She managed to reach her step-
father in Norway after being loaned
a phone card by another woman
"My stepdad, he answered the
phone, so I said, that I had been
raped, I am in prison ... please call
the embassy," she recounted.
"And then I went back and I ...
just had a breakdown," she con-
tinued. "It was very emotional, to
call my dad and tell him what hap-
Norwegian diplomats later
secured her release and she has
been allowed to remain at the Nor-
wegian Seamen s Center in central
Dubai. She said her alleged attacker
received a 13-month sentence for
out-of-wedlock sex and alcohol
Dubai authorities did not respond
to calls for comment, but the case
has brought strong criticism from
Norwegian officials and activists.
"This verdict flies in the face of
our notion of justice," Norway s
foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide,
told the NTB news agency, calling
it "highly problematic from a
human rights perspective."
Previous cases in the UAE have
raised similar questions, with
alleged sexual assault victims facing
charges for sex-related offenses.
Other legal codes also have been
criticised for being at odds with
the Western-style openness pro-
moted by Dubai.
On Thursday, Dubai police said
they arrested a man who posted
an Internet video of an Emirati
beating a South Asian van driver
after an apparent traffic altercation.
Police said they took the action
because images of a potential crime
In London, a spokesman for the
Emirates Center for Human Rights,
a group monitoring UAE affairs,
said the Dalelv case points out the
need for the UAE to expand its legal
protections for alleged rape vic-
"We urge authorities to reform
the laws governing incidents of rape
in the country," said Rori Donaghy,
"to ensure women are protected
against sexual violence and do not
become the targets of prosecution
when reporting crimes."
1,000 people in Haiti participated
yesterday in a rare street demon-
stration to protest homosexuality
and a proposal to legalise gay
marriage in the Caribbean nation.
The protest brought together a
mix of religious groups, from
Protestant to Muslim, who carried
anti-gay placards and chanted
songs, including one in which they
threatened to burn down parlia-
ment if its members make same-
sex marriage legal.
A Haitian gay rights group has
said it plans to submit a proposal
allowing homosexuals to wed.
"I believe in God, and God con-
demns homosexuality," said pro-
tester Eddy Jean-Pierre, a self-
described Protestant. "Haiti is not
going to accept this, and God will
punish us further if we allow this
law to pass."
The demonstration organised
by several religious groups, includ-
ing one calling itself the Haitian
Coalition of Religious and Moral
Organizations, came two days after
watchdog groups held a news con-
ference to condemn what they say
is an increase in threats against
homosexuals in the country. They
also took issue with plans for yes-
terday s protest.
The coalition of religious groups
said three weeks ago that it
opposed recent laws in other coun-
tries supporting gay marriage.
Haiti s gay and lesbian commu-
nity is small and has long kept a
low-profile because of a strong
social stigma that sparks fears of
physical violence and loss of
Gay rights groups in Haiti say
that members of the country s les-
bian, gay, bisexual and transgender
community often don t report
rights violations to authorities out
of fear of reprisal. Those people
also have suffered overt discrim-
ination from law enforcement and
judicial authorities, particularly in
Port-au-Prince, the US State
Department said in a 2012 report
on human rights in Haiti.
More than 1,000 show up
for Haiti anti-gay protest
Norwegian alleges rape,
fights Dubai jail sentence
Marte Deborah Dalelv
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