I know it's tempting to do wild and crazy stuff when you are off working or partying in another country - who hasn't wanted to do shots off stranger's naked body, skinny dip on that public beach, then shoplift at the souvenir shop and pretend you speak neither English nor any other real language known to humankind but only your own private version of esperanto?
But if you were thinking that as a professional woman you could just go to Dubai, have a couple of drinks, get raped, and then complain about it to the police, well - you can only do the first two of those things.
Oh - wait. That's not what I meant. I'm sure there are many, many professional women who go to work or vacation in Dubai, socialize with male colleagues or friends, and continue on with their lives without further incident.
But: If you thought that as a professional woman you could go to Dubai, do your work, go out with some of your male colleagues, wake up the next morning and find yourself naked and raped, and then expect to be able to report that rape without getting arrested yourself for extramarital sex, alcohol consumption and perjury, well - then you might be wrong.
Because 24-year-old Marte Deborah Dalelv, a Norwegian business woman, tried that and was convicted yesterday of 'extramarital sex' (consensual sex with a man to whom she was not married), alcohol consumption and perjury.
From the July 18, 2013 USA Today article:
"Dalelv told police March 6 that she was raped while in the emirate on business. Her father said she was instead jailed for four days and had her passport and money confiscated. She was then charged.
Norwegian diplomats secured her release to the local Norwegian Seamen's Church.
For a rape conviction, United Arab Emirates law requires either a confession or four adult male witnesses to the attack."
From a July 18, 2013 article in The Local (Norwegian news in English):
"She called after four days in jail and told me that she had been raped and was in jail. I was totally shocked," Stefar Toregier Furesund (Davlev's father), who has visited his daughter several times since the arrest, told the NRK news network on Thursday.
"In my view, this is completely absurd. It's a natural reaction to go to the police when you have been raped. You don't expect to be sent to jail yourself," he said about the verdict which was passed down on Wednesday.
His daughter reported the alleged rape on March 6th to Emirati authorities in Dubai, but they confiscated her passport and money and later went on to prosecute her instead."
And again, according to USA Today:
Similar cases involving foreigners and Emirati women have been reported in the past few years.
In December, a 28-year-old British woman who reported being kidnapped and gang-raped by three men in Dubai was found guilty of drinking alcohol without a license. She was fined $257.
Three years ago, an Abu Dhabi court sentenced an 18-year-old Emirati woman to a year in prison for illicit sex after she reported that six men had gang-raped her.
In 2008, an Australian woman managing a United Arab Emirates resort reported being brutally gang-raped while unconscious because she had been drugged. She was convicted of illegal sex outside marriage and sentenced to 11 months in prison, in addition to one month for drinking alcohol."
You might not do time for engaging in shady financial deals of epic proportions, getting raped in Dubai can get you locked up, if you are stupid enough to report it.
Not the rapists. You. The person who had the nerve and audacity to get raped, and then complain about it.
Oh, and by the way, from what I can gather from this photo, taken from a Norwegian news site, Ms. Davlev was also suspended from her job due to her "unacceptable and improper behaviour". I'm not sure whether this is the unacceptable behaviour of being raped, or the unacceptable and improper behaviour of going to the police.
So scratch this version of visiting Dubai off your list. Better yet, maybe just avoid going to Dubai while still being female, at least until these laws are changed.
USA Today article.
The Local article.
Speaking as an expat who has lived in several countries, I know that it is often the case that if something happens locally that could be considered 'bad for business', and it's not in the local English-language news, there's a good chance you won't hear about it. What this means for foreign women in Dubai is that they might not know the risks they are taking on if they report a rape.