Rape Victim Convicted — But Freed
A woman who was arrested after allegedly being raped in Qatar was convicted of committing adultery earlier today at a brief hearing in a court in Doha. She received a suspended prison sentence of one year and was ordered to pay a fine of 3,000 Qatari rials — equivalent to approximately $825.00 or 733 euros — and will be deported once the fine is paid.
Rape Victim Convicted — But Freed
The woman — who is 22 years of age; is from the Netherlands; and is identified only as “Laura” — was detained since Monday, March 14, 2016 despite having reported to law enforcement authorities that she was raped while on holiday with a friend after being drugged in a hotel where the consumption of alcohol is reportedly permitted; and woke up the next morning with her clothes torn and “feeling unwell” in an apartment unfamiliar to her. She appeared in court three times since she was detained.
The man claimed a different version of that night — that what they did that night which they spent together had been consensual; and that the woman had even asked him for money.
She “was in the care of the Dutch Embassy after a brief court hearing in Doha, the Qatari capital which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup”, according to this article written by Jon Gambrell of the Associated Press. “Her case has raised new questions ahead of the tournament, which likely will draw tens of thousands of Western tourists unfamiliar with the Islamic-based legal codes that govern the small peninsular nation.
The adultery charged resulted from her having extramarital sex with a man from Syria, as sex out of wedlock is illegal and considered a serious crime in Qatar. Although he is not expected to serve any tine in jail for his role in the incident, the male defendant was reportedly sentenced to 100 lashes for having illicit sex; and 40 lashes for drinking alcohol. He will reportedly undergo a medical examination to determine as to whether or not he is fit enough to withstand his punishment; and once he has served his punishment, he will also be deported from Qatar.
Although alcoholic beverages are available at higher-end hotels in Qatar and at duty-free shops at the international airport which serves the greater metropolitan area of Doha, residents must have permission from their employers to purchase alcohol at the only liquor store operated by the government of Qatar.
Reaction has spread throughout the Internet in response to the latest update.
— Malika Bilal (@mmbilal) June 13, 2016
Confirmed 22-year-old found guilty of adultery, fined, given one year suspended sentence & will be deported – foreign ministry #freelaura
— anna holligan (@annaholligan) June 13, 2016
“This scares me. I know anything can happen when traveling. I could be injured. I could die while hiking”, Jeanne Marie Hoffman of Le Chic Geek wrote in this article in what she calls “a difficult post to write” in reaction to what happened to “Laura” in Qatar. “But the idea that I could lose my liberty because someone else hurt me terrifies me.”
Jeanne Marie Hoffman continued that she “could travel to somewhere where someone disagrees with my race, religion, gender or sexuality, and not only be hurt for that — but have no protections in return. More than no protections — end up in a situation where I need to make sure no one finds out what happened because the consequences of people knowing are even worse.”
On the same day as the private party at the Fox Theater by Qatar Airways in the latest in a feud with Delta Air Lines, I had just finished the day shooting a role for the latest film in which I have acted south of Atlanta and was on my way north to drive through the city when I spotted a billboard on the side of the highway which accused Qatar Airways of being “anti-women” and “anti-worker”, calling on a boycott of the airline by the Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere — also known by its acronym AWARE.
“It’s been widely reported by international media that every week approximately 29 migrant workers will die — total deaths are estimated to be 4,000 — building the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer facilities in Doha because of deplorable working conditions”, according to this article by the organization which claims itself to be a champion of human rights and is working to build global awareness around human rights abusers as well as those who are taking action to end these abuses. “Thousands more will suffer other horrifying abuses as workers across business sectors, including Qatar Airways employees, have little to no protections, and some can be legally held in indentured servitude.”
The only time I was actually in Qatar — which I do not count amongst the list of countries which I visited — was a stop each way for approximately an hour at the international airport which serves the greater metropolitan area of Doha on flights between Amsterdam and Muscat. Passengers whose destination was not Doha were not given permission to leave the airplane while the aircraft was refueling. That obviously gave me no first-hand insight into the culture in Qatar…
…but Qatar suffers from a reputation for being a violator of human rights — and if that is indeed true, then officials in that country need to take the appropriate steps in order to improve its reputation if it hopes to have both a thriving tourism industry and a successful airline.
Meanwhile, “Laura” is obviously relieved and happy to be going home soon, as her family is “very pleased” that she was released from incarceration. With the assistance of the embassy of the Netherlands and its ambassador and diplomats, everything will be done to get “Laura” out of Qatar as soon as possible — possibly within a few days.
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