Dutch Woman Jailed In Qatar After Being Raped To Be Sent Home
A 22-year-old Dutch woman who reported being drugged and raped during a holiday in Qatar ended up being jailed herself for “illicit consensual fornication” and being “drunk in a public place.” The woman, identified only as “Laura,” has been in jail since March 14, and on Monday was handed a one-year suspended sentence, three years of probation, and a fine of about $823.
Protestors feared Laura, 22, would get sentenced to years of prison in Qatar, but Monday’s ruling means she can finally go home as she will be deported back to the Netherlands as soon as possible. A court official told Al Jazeera that the sentence was lenient, adding: “Had she been a Muslim woman, she would have received at least five years in jail. No one can get out of such charges here in Qatar.”
The case has given rise to strong reactions on social media under the hashtag #freelaura:
Dutch woman faces prison after being raped in Qatar for having "extramarital sex" – this needs to be covered by int'l media asap #freelaura
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) June 11, 2016
— Kween Ka$h (@Kweendom) June 13, 2016
The Syrian man accused of raping her, Omar Abdullah al-Hasan, was sentenced a punishment of 100 lashes for extramarital sexual acts, plus 40 lashes for drinking in public, a severe crime in Qatar and other Muslim countries. He admitted to having had sex with the woman but not that it was by force. He was not charged with rape, and the subject didn’t even come up during the court hearing.
Laura was reportedly out at a hotel bar with a friend when she had a drink that made her feel strange. She said she woke up the next morning in a room she didn’t know, realizing she had been raped and probably drugged. When she went to the police, they arrested her.
The Dutch Embassy was involved at an early stage and has been in close contact with Laura and her family. Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, the Dutch ambassador in Doha, said to CNN: “We will do everything we can to get her out of the country as soon as possible to where she says she wants to go.”
— Devi Boerema (@DeviBoerema) June 11, 2016
Qatar is set to host the World Cup soccer tournament in 2022, something that has led to protests among human rights activists concerning the death of migrant workers, corruption, and more. It has also caused concerns about how the country will deal with beer-loving soccer fans–and how fans will deal with strict sharia laws.