Marte Dalelv gets to go home

Dubai perhaps noticed the bad publicity; anyway it dropped the sentence.

Dubai authorities hope the pardon of the 24-year-old woman will allow them to sidestep another potentially embarrassing blow to the city’s heavily promoted image as a forward-looking model of luxury, excess and cross-cultural understanding.

Yum: luxury, excess and cross-cultural understanding. Actually, make that luxury and excess, without any kind of understanding. Luxury and excess aren’t really the best ways to promote understanding.

Rape prosecutions are complicated in the United Arab Emirates because — as in some other countries influenced by Islamic law — conviction requires either a confession or the testimony of adult male witnesses.

In a twist that often shocks Western observers, allegations of rape can boomerang into illegal sex charges for the accuser. In 2008, an Australian woman said she was jailed for eight months after claiming she was gang-raped at a UAE hotel.

You know, believe it or not, that “twist” often shocks non-Western observers, too, and it shocks non-Western victims even more. It’s kind of obtuse – kind of bad at cross-cultural understanding – to assume that all the people who live under misogynist laws think they’re a fine thing. There are such things as human rights organizations outside “the West,” you know. There are also women outside the West, and not all of them endorse being treated like punching bags.

[Foreign Minister] Barth Eide told the Norwegian news agency NTB that international media attention and Norway’s diplomatic measures helped Dalelv, who was free on appeal with her next court hearing scheduled for early September. Norway also reminded the United Arab Emirates of obligations under U.N. accords to seriously investigate claims of violence against women.

“The United Arab Emirates and Dubai is a rapidly changing society. This decision won’t only affect Marte Dalelv, who can travel home now if she wishes to, but also serve as a wake-up call regarding the legal situation in many other countries,” Barth Eide was quoted as saying.

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter: “Happy that Marte has been pardoned and that she is a free woman again.”

I don’t like to call it a “pardon” since I don’t think being raped is a crime in the first place.

The AP does not identify the names of alleged sexual assault victims, but Dalelv went public voluntarily to talk to media.

In an interview with the AP last week, she recalled that she fled to the hotel lobby and asked for the police to be called after the alleged attack. The hotel staff asked if she was sure she wanted to involve the police, Dalelv said.

“Of course I want to call the police,” she said. “That is the natural reaction where I am from.”

Norway’s foreign minister said “very high level” Norwegian officials, including himself, had been in daily contact with counterparts in the United Arab Emirates since the verdict against Dalelv.

“We have made very clear what we think about this verdict and what we think about the fact that one is charged and sentenced when one starts out by reporting alleged abuse,” Barth Eide said.

In London, a rights group monitoring UAE affairs urged authorities to change laws to “ensure victims are protected, feel comfortable reporting crimes and are able to fairly pursue justice.”

“While we are pleased that Marte can now return home to Norway, her pardon still suggests that she was somehow guilty of a crime,” said Rori Donaghy, a spokesman for the Emirates Center for Human Rights. “Until laws are reformed, victims of sexual violence in the UAE will continue to suffer in this way and we will likely see more cases such as this one.”



  1. says

    the alleged attack

    If it was an “alleged” attack, then she wouldn’t be at fault for being raped, huh? Seems to me that the stupid islamic law has a built in affirmative defense.

  2. Martha says

    Relieved as I am that she gets to go home, I’m furious that we are reduced to this measly victory while her rapist walks free. What is wrong with people???

  3. says

    I ‘ve just watched part 1/2 videos of the Alicia Gali story See: Part 2…: I needed to gain insight into how Sharia law works in Dubai.

    Dubai appears outwardly to be so at variance with its westernised culture on one hand, combined with its antediluvian Sharia law practices on the other. For example the country is dripping with wealth and high-rise buildings that jut out to the sea. Drink flows freely at all-night parties. However, 4 Muslim men in that antiquated Sharia law legal system have to testify that sex was not consensual with women who claim they were raped. It’s advisable that women say nothing after being raped, as they too are charged with same crime as alleged perpetrators.

    Unforunately, Alicia Gali did not have immediate success in the aftermath of being raped, sentenced and convicted to an inhumane prison for months, as Norwegian, Marte Dalelv.

  4. says

    Yes, I am disgusted by the commonly repeated trope in the media that this is regarded as shocking and inhumane only by Western women. As if being jailed for being raped is totally okay if you’re a woman born in Dubai.

  5. Scote says

    This is the country that will throw visitors in jail if they have 3 poppy seeds on their clothes from the bred roll they ate at the last airport–really.

    I can’t imagine that it is advisable for *anyone*, male or female, to visit Dubai. Though, clearly, it is more dangerous for women. The 4 male witness rule means no lone rapist can ever be convicted, not even a gang of three rapists. Truly appalling.

  6. Claire Ramsey says

    “Rape prosecutions are complicated in the United Arab Emirates. . .”

    Oohh another complication I can add to my list of complexities that show up when something unbalanced and unjust happens involving women. #1: the LRB finds it terribly complicated to explain their failure to publish and review women. #2: Rape prosecutions in the UAE.

    What’s next, I wonder?

  7. Ysidro says

    Marcus, the attack is “alleged” but the “intercourse” isn’t. Because the entire UAE justice system assumes bitches be lyin’.

    Disgusting, innit?

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