Convicted Norwegian Rape Victim Pardoned in the UAE

Convicted Norwegian Rape Victim Pardoned in the UAE

Marte Deborah Dilalv, a Norwegian woman who was sentenced to 16 months in prison after reporting she had been raped,  has been pardoned by Dubai authorities today.

Marte, whose case has been met with global outrage, was convicted of extramarital sex, drinking alcohol and providing false testimony after reporting she had been raped in a Dubai hotel.

While we welcome today’s verdict, which sees a horrific ordeal come to an end for Marte, we are concerned that there will be many more cases such as this unless laws are reformed.

Victims of sexual violence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) do not receive adequate protection from the law, which often results in victims being prosecuted.

In order to gain a conviction of rape the law requires either a confession or four adult male witnesses to testify.

Indeed, when victims are unable to meet the requirements for a conviction they are often prosecuted by the law prohibiting sex outside marriage.

When combined with society’s stigma that women who have been raped are somehow unpure, victims of sexual violence are very often put off from reporting crimes.

Rori Donaghy, Campaign Manager, said: “While we are pleased that Marte can now return home to Norway, her pardon still suggests that she was somehow guilty of a crime. 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. Authorities must move to change laws to ensure victims are protected, feel comfortable reporting crimes and are able to fairly pursue justice.”

Authorities must not end their reaction to this case with a pardon. Marte should not need a pardon, she should have been given support and protection by the law.

In what has been the latest in a long line of similar cases, we call on authorities to ensure the law is changed to stop this happening.

Not everyone will receive the attention Marte has gotten and it is those victims who most need the law to change to protect victims of sexual violence.

For further information please contact Rori Donaghy on +447850062105 or at campaigns@echr.org.uk