Briton who reported being raped by fellow tourists in Dubai faces jail for having ‘extramarital sex’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 12:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 9:03pm

A British woman who reported being raped by two fellow tourists men is “petrified” after being told she faces jail in Dubai for extramarital sex.

The 25-year-old tourist claimed she was attacked by two British men while on holiday in the United Arab Emirates and reported the incident to police.

But officers then charged the woman from Cheshire with extra-marital sex and, despite being bailed, she is not allowed to leave the country. Her passport has been confiscated and UK-based UAE legal experts Detained in Dubai said she could face a prison sentence if found guilty.

The family of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have set up fundraising pages online to raise money to cover her legal costs. She is currently residing in a safe house.

The woman’s father wrote online that his daughter had met the two men in her hotel who raped her. He claims the alleged attack was filmed. He added: “She is stranded, is not allowed to leave the country, and is alone scared, and in a dreadful situation, as you can imagine.”

Shortly afterwards, two men were arrested at Dubai airport. They have been named as David Butlin, 22, and Louis Harris, 24. They have both been bailed and also remain in the country.

Butlin and Harris, who are cousins and both live in the West Midlands, were pictured on social media at a Dubai beach club. The men are understood to firmly deny the claims.

It is understood that the UK Foreign Office is providing assistance to the alleged victim and is working with the local authorities.

In a post on a fundraising page, the woman’s father wrote: “She was befriended by two guys from Birmingham ... and went with them for a drink, in a hotel where they were staying, the guys concerned were travelling home in around 4/5 hours.”

He added that his daughter “was taken to the police station where the incident was reported, and the prosecutor is setting a date for her trial, which is a complicated scenario because of the laws of the country.”

After reporting the alleged assault, the woman ended up in a prison cell. Her passport was confiscated and her family claim she now faces trial. .

Her father wrote: “[She] has been put in a safe house, but is stranded in the country for a period of between three and six months, or even longer, until a trial date is confirmed and the case is brought to court.”

It is claimed that the woman has had to find a lawyer to represent her and legal costs will amount to £24,000.

Radha Stirling, founder and director of Detained in Dubai, said the woman could be stuck in Dubai for as long as six months even if she was found innocent.

“There is a huge backlog in the system,” she said. “If she wins the first stage, the prosecution can appeal and they often do … So by the time she is found innocent, by the time she gets her passport returned, we can be talking at least six months.”

Stirling said the UAE was not a safe place for women to report allegations of rape. “Sex outside marriage is a crime there and, therefore, if a rape allegation is made and can’t be proved to be rape then it’s almost automatic that the person is charged with voluntary sex outside marriage,” she said.

She said similar cases in the past had resulted in seven-month prison sentences for alleged rape victims and that the best chance the family had to speed up the process would be to work to put diplomatic and media pressure on the UAE government.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are supporting a British woman in relation to this case and will remain in contact with her family.”

In 2008 an Australian woman, Alicia Gali, was jailed for eight months in Fujairah for having an illicit sexual relationship after she reported being drugged and raped by three co-workers.

The fundraising page has now raised more than £11,000.