Dubai Pardons Rape Victim Who Was Sentenced to Prison for Having Sex

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Dubai Pardons Rape Victim Who Was Sentenced to Prison for Having Sex
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Dubai Pardons Rape Victim Who Was Sentenced to Prison for Having Sex

A Norwegian woman who given a prison sentence for extramarital sex after reporting her rape to police, has been freed after her case sparked in an international uproar.

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The case began back in March when Marte Dalelv, a Norwegian citizen working in Qatar, went to neighboring Dubai on a business trip. She claimed that after a night out drinking, a co-worker led her back to his hotel room where he raped her. When she went to the police, rather than charge her attacker for the assault, she was charged with criminal offenses for having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol in public. Last Wednesday, she was given a 16-month prison sentence for her crimes. (Her co-worker, who is from Sudan, was given 13 months for the same offenses, but was not charged with assault.) 

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When she tried to change her story, believing it might end her own criminal case, she was instead charged with perjury, leading to the extra jail time. She was fired from her job at an interior design firm, which is owned by a Qatari billionaire.

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News of the prison sentence drew outrage and condemnation from Norway and the European Union. The names of rape victims are usually kept secret, but Dalelv went public hoping to draw more attention to her case. Dubai has strict, if rarely enforced laws against drinking and pre-marital sex that are often used to punish women who file accusations of rape, while their assailants go unpunished.

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In this case, the extra publicity seems to have worked. On Monday, Norway's foreign minister announced that Dalelv had been pardoned, and her passport has been returned. The verdict was not overturned, but she is free to leave the country without serving any jail time.

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