Woman Convicted of Adultery in Qatar After Reporting Rape

Dutch woman says drink was spiked, she was assaulted—but Qatar doesn't see it that way
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2016 11:44 AM CDT
Woman Convicted of Adultery in Qatar After Reporting Rape
In this May 14, 2010, file photo, a Qatari woman walks in front of the city skyline in Doha.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Qatar's Article 281 makes clear that any man who has extramarital sex "with a female over sixteen without compulsion, duress, or ruse shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to seven years." The next part of that code raises eyebrows: "The same penalty shall also be imposed on the female for her consent." And it's what has dealt a conviction to a Dutch woman trapped in the Arab country since she reported her own rape three months ago, the BBC reports. The 22-year-old woman, IDed only as Laura, was given a one-year suspended sentence and $850 fine Monday, Daphne Kerremans, a Dutch Foreign Ministry rep, tells the New York Times. Laura was accused of adultery after she says her drink was drugged at a Doha hotel in mid-March and she woke up in a stranger's apartment to find she had been sexually assaulted; when she notified police, she was arrested.

Laura's lawyer says that she was on vacation at a hotel that permitted the sale of alcohol (liquor is mostly illegal in Qatar). A former Qatar justice minister tells Al Jazeera that defense lawyers would had to have proved "no voluntary actions" existed between the woman and the man, IDed by Dutch News as Syrian national Omar Abdullah Al-Hassan. He claims the sex was consensual but that they argued after, prompting Laura to file her report; he received a sentence of 140 lashes—100 for the extramarital sex, 40 for drinking booze, none for rape. The burden in Qatar of proving sexual assault is so strong that a man and woman walking together could be enough to convince officials that the woman gave the OK to sex later. Laura will be deported after paying her fine. "The ambassador is with her now and is making sure that she can go home as soon as possible," Kerremans tells the Times. "It was quite overwhelming for her." (She's not the first foreigner to be accused of adultery in an Arab nation.)

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