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Dubai Imprisoned A Woman For Having Extra-Marital Sex After She Was Allegedly Raped

The 24-year-old Norwegian woman was sentenced to 16 months in prison after she reported being raped.

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In March this year, Marte Deborah Dalelv, a 24-year-old Norwegian interior designer who works in Qatar, claims she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker on a night out in Dubai. She was attending a business meeting there.

When she reported the alleged rape to Dubai's police, they took away her passport and seized her money. She was then charged with having sex outside marriage, drinking alcohol, and perjury. Last week, she was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Extra-marital sex is outlawed in the United Arab Emirates, but it is not actively enforced for tourists and Westerners on resident visas.

After the Norwegian government secured her conditional release, she has been living in the Norwegeian Seamans' centre in Dubai and is preparing for her appeal in September.

In an interview with the AP, Dalelv said, "I have to spread the word. ... After my sentence we thought, 'How can it get worse?'"

She also told the AP that her alleged attacker received a 13-month sentence for out-of-wedlock sex and alcohol consumption.

Her case sparked outrage from international rights' groups and activists. Norway's foreign minister told the NTB news agency that the verdict "flies in the face of our notion of justice."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

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