In the United Arab Emirates, a country that prides itself on modernity and its willingness to advance women’s rights, the criminal court in Abu Dhabi has sentenced an 18-year-old Emirati woman to a year in prison for illicit sex after she reported that six men had gang-raped her. Sadly, her treatment, though outrageous, is not unusual in the UAE. It comes as no surprise that more than half of Emirati women questioned in a survey in January by the YouGov Siraj consulting organisation said they would not report sexual assault or rape to police. The woman, whose name authorities have not made public, said in court that she had agreed to go for a drive with a 19-year-old male friend. News media reported that she said the friend called five other men to meet them, and when they arrived, they raped her. During the first hearing on 17 May in Abu Dhabi’s criminal court, the six men were charged with rape, four in absentia as the authorities had not found them. The forensics unit at the Abu Dhabi judicial department noted that evidence of assault was visible on the woman’s body. Despite the physical evidence and the charges against all six men, the criminal court also charged the woman with illicit sex, or sex outside marriage, which is punishable by imprisonment and flogging in the UAE. The prosecutor argued that the fact that she went for a drive with a man was sufficient proof that she consented to having sex.

For the past decade and a half I have been making all my content available for free (and never behind a paywall) as an ongoing practice of ephemeral publishing. This site is no exception. If you wish to help offset my labor costs, you can donate on Paypal or you can subscribe to Patreon where I will not be putting my posts behind a lock but you'd be helping me continue making this work available for everyone. Thank you.  Follow me on Twitter for new post updates.

Scroll to top