Rape Victim Told to Marry Her Attacker or Face Jail in United Arab Emirates

An unnamed Muslim woman from Austria was told to marry the man that allegedly raped her after she reported the crime, which took place during a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

The woman, 29, was told that her albeit unwilling participation still constituted extra-marital sex, which is illegal in the Gulf country. She was also set to be charged with alcohol consumption, also illegal, before the Austrian Foreign Ministry intervened and ensured her safe passage home.

The attack reportedly took place after a party in a hotel in Dubai. The attacker was described as a Yemeni man who allegedly accosted his victim in a parking garage on December 1st last year.

When the woman reported the rape to local police, however, she was arrested and told she could only escape charges of extra-marital sex and alcohol consumption if she agreed to marry the man that had allegedly attacked her.

She was subsequently jailed for three days, and her passport was confiscated as police weighed whether to pursue the case.

The woman was only released after a special crisis team was sent by the Austrian Foreign Ministry to negotiate with the authorities. 

An online petition calling for her immediate release obtained over 260,000 signatures in just a few days. 

The Daily Mail reports that her quick release came as a surprise because, as a Muslim, she would likely have been treated more severely than non-Muslim Western visitors. Austrian Foreign Ministry official Michael Linhart said on Friday that it was unclear whether the victim would still face charges of having sex outside marriage.


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