A woman who said she was raped by the son of a police chief in Dubai has told how she was locked up and “treated worse than a dog” when she tried to have him arrested.
The woman was only freed after intervention by Austria’s young foreign minister Sebastian Kurz, who organised a crisis team to head to the UAE to negotiate the woman’s release.
She faced charges of having sex out of marriage when she complained she had been raped, and faced jail as a result. She was told she could escape being charged if she agreed to marry the man she said had attacked her.
Back home in Austria the 29-year-old named only by her first name Marie spoke for the first time about her ordeal, saying: “It was terrible. I never knew what was going on, they told me nothing when I said I’d been raped, instead everything was taken away form me and I was locked up.
“Nobody kept me informed about my situation. I was treated worse than a dog.
“Nobody spoke to me properly. It was horrendous. I just thought it would be like in Europe, counselling, maybe tests. But now I know better. Dubai is very different.”
“But I am proud to be Austrian, and I am so grateful to Sebastian Kurz and the whole team. I know now that I will never travel to an Arab land again.”
Her lawyer Mohammad al Redha, meanwhile, said that for the UAE the matter was being hushed up: “They are no longer investigating the rape allegations.”
He said the man, whom Austrian media said was the son of a police chief, no longer faces rape charges, but could face a fine for out of marriage sex.
The young woman had been to a party at a hotel where the rules on alcohol are often lax, according to Austrian officials, and was raped in an underground car park after accepting a lift home.
An online petition also helped to bring attention to the situation, gaining over 260,000 signatures calling for her release in just a few days.
The case has been compared to that of a 24-year-old Norwegian woman who was given a prison sentence of one year and four months by a Dubai court after she reported her own rape last year. Instead of being treated as a victim, she was found guilty of alcohol abuse and extramarital sex.
She was later pardoned and allowed to return to Norway after there was a global outcry about her treatment.