Rape in Qatar raises questions about the safety of tourists and protection for victims under the law.
Qatar who will host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, is back in the news again (after dealing with serious charges stemming from migrant workers building the stadium).
This time, due to a 22-year old European woman who was drugged and raped in Qatar by a Syrian man there.
More about the rape in Qatar –
- The victim was arrested for “fornication” along with her accuser.
- Both were found “guilty” last week.
- She will be deported after being held in jail since March 14, 2016.
- She was also fined $824 (3,000 riyal) for being raped after drinking at a nightclub (The Crystal Lounge) for visitors in a W Hotel in Doha.
- He will receive 100 lashes for illicit sex acts and another 40 lashes as punishment for public drunkenness.
- He will also be deported.
“Had she been a Muslim woman, she would have received at least five years in jail. No one can get out of such charges here in Qatar,” the court official said. This is very disturbing. And it encourages unreported crimes against women.
According to Brian Lokollo, a lawyer who was hired by the woman’s family, Laura was at a W Hotel bar having drinks with a friend in the Qatari capital, but then had a drink that made her feel “very unwell.” She reportedly woke up in an unfamiliar location and realized “to her great horror” that she had been raped after her drink was spiked. (http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/13/middleeast/qatar-dutch-woman-rape-report-jail/)
“Doha-based lawyer Najeeb al-Nuaimi, Qatar’s former justice minister, told the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera the woman’s lawyers would have had to prove there had been “no voluntary actions” between her and the man for him to be charged with rape. (http://dohanews.co/dutch-woman-who-reported-rape-in-qatar-to-face-extramarital-sex-charge/)
“Even if they had been seen walking together, the authorities might have doubts any sexual activity was non-consensual and instead prosecute both for having sex outside marriage, which is known as “zina” under Islamic law, Mr Nuaimi said.” (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36516006)
If physical evidence is more conclusive, the attacker could be convicted and serve a jail term of up to three years. But if someone is convicted of having sex outside of marriage, the jail term usually lasts three months, as opposed to a year in Dubai.
Rape in Qatar: What we think
Qatar really just doesn’t want to know about these types of cases. They would rather they go unreported. Migrant workers are especially vulnerable to these types of rape.
Almost one quarter of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch in 2014 reported physical or sexual abuse.
“Domestic workers are brought to the Emirates under something called the Kafala system – an arrangement in which a migrant’s right to work, to change jobs, and to go home is entirely dependent upon the employer who sponsors their entry into the country. The dependency created by the Kafala system, as well as the lack of adequate legal protections, leaves domestic servants vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The scale of that abuse may never be fully known.”
We posted a video with a few tips to protect yourself at https://youtu.be/blOhgj5aYnA. This is a problem for men as well (where women or friends drug men in order to rob them) so all travelers need to be aware of it. We are also adding an important article about this topic in our Fall 2016 Travel Safety Guide (which you can get free by asking for it at firstname.lastname@example.org), since it is becoming so widespread.
Physical evidence of a struggle in very important in reporting rape in Qatar:
“She could push him (or) resist the movement by moving her hands – that would show a mark or scratch, which proves that she was under a physical struggle,” Dr. Najeeb al-Nuaimi (a criminal lawyer and the former justice minister of Qatar) said. “But if that doesn’t show, she’s lying. That’s clear for any investigator.”
Qatar and the countries of the Arab Gulf have become hotspots for tourism and business, with the Pearl Qatar and the Corniche being especially well-known in Qatar. It has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves, and the highest per capita income in the world. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar)
The problem is that with the world coming to Qatar for the World Cup (http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/qatar2022/), will the country and its legal system simply turn a blind eye to sex trafficking during the games? Will they turn a blind eye to rape victims? Or will they arrest every drunken athlete or spectator?
While the case is extreme, and unjust, it is not as extreme as that of local women some of which, like Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was stoned to death for being raped, in front of 1000 people in Kismayo, Somalia in 2008 or Arifa Bibi, who was stoned to death in Pakistan for having a mobile phone. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/special-report-the-punishment-was-death-by-stoning-the-crime-having-a-mobile-phone-8846585.html)
Questions are also being asked about the Under-20 Women’s World Cup, which will take place in Papua New Guinea in November and December. “I was shocked by how little interest that had generated within Fifa when we know that multinational organizations will not allow women to go on the streets in broad daylight.”
The report adds: “Papua New Guinea is known as one of the world’s worst places for sexual violence against women – and police are often among the perpetrators. This is precisely the kind of case that requires heightened human rights due diligence as part of the bid evaluation process.” With the decision already taken, the report calls on Fifa to prove that adequate security arrangements are being made to address the risks. ( From https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/apr/14/fifa-qatar-world-cup-report-human-rights)
The new Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, said Fifa was “fully committed to respecting human rights” and said the new report would guide the way forward. “This is an ongoing process and of course challenges remain but Fifa is committed to playing its part in ensuring respect for human rights and to being a leader among international sports organizations in this important area,” he said.
For more on rape in Qatar >>
What to know about rape in Qatar (from a 2013 case): http://dohanews.co/what-to-know-about-rape-in-qatar/