UAE: Criminalized for ‘Illegal Sex’

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Aug 2 2013

Last month, a stream of media reports covered the story of a Norwegian woman who was sentenced to jail for 'illegal sex' despite being a victim of rape. She was later 'pardoned' by the UAE's president; a decision that attracted criticism to the country's laws that turn rape victims into convicts. Reporters reminded us of similar stories, most notably that of an Australian woman who was gang-raped and jailed for eight months.

When it comes to non-Western women, such stories are underreported and presented marginally through the UAE's local media. More than a week ago, a woman from the Philippines arrived home after spending three months in a Dubai jail with her four-year-old son for having an 'illegal affair.' The woman named Macky called on others to try and help other imprisoned inmates who are jailed with their children and need aid to leave the country.

On August 1st, an Indonesian housemaid was sentenced to a year in jail for having 'consensual sex,' attempting abortion with a herbal medicine, and working in prostitution. After failing to abort, the woman escaped her sponsor's house and had sex for money. When she was six-months-pregnant, she decided to turn herself in to the Dubai police and will serve a year in jail before getting deported.

Lately, one of five men convicted of forcing a Bangladeshi woman into prostitution was acquitted. The woman escaped her sponsor's home and sought the man's help for a job. She was beaten and raped when she refused to work as a prostitute in their brothel but managed to escape later. The report states: "Court records did not give a reason for the acquittal."

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East