A really worrying story coming out of Dubai is that British tourists are being advised by a charity to not report rape in Dubai because they’re likely to be arrested themselves for extra-marital sex (sex outside marriage).
Ms Stirling from the charity Detained in Dubai said: “It’s also linked to the fact that tourism in the UAE has increased and there is a big clubbing scene. People go there to have a good time and the country promotes this. But they do assume women are ‘looking for it’. There is the social perception that if a woman drinks alcohol, she has consented to it. And there’s also a racist mentality of thinking, ‘She’s British so she was probably drunk and asking for it’.”
Ms Stirling added that she personally would not report a rape in the UAE, saying: “There’s so much manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations over there – I wouldn’t report a rape there if I were raped myself.”
The British government’s travel advice for UAE says: The UAE is a Muslim country. Laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. Specifically regarding relationships the website says:
All sex outside marriage is illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner in the UK. Same-sex marriages are not recognised and all homosexual sex is illegal. If the UAE authorities become aware that you’re conducting a sexual relationship outside marriage (as recognised by them), you run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. It’s against the law to live together, or to share the same hotel room, with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren’t married or closely related.
The UAE is in many respects a tolerant society and private life is respected, although there have been some reports of individuals being punished for sexual activity outside marriage, including homosexual activity, particularly where there is any public element, or the behaviour has caused offence. This applies both to expatriate residents and to tourists.
Due to the laws on sex outside marriage, if you become pregnant outside marriage, both you and your partner could face imprisonment and/or deportation. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks. An unmarried woman who gives birth in the UAE may also encounter problems when registering the birth of the child in the UAE, and could be arrested, imprisoned or deported. To get a birth certificate from the UAE authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception.