Monday, June 15, 2009

I was gang raped then jailed in Dubai

Article from: The Sunday Telegraph

By Lisa Mayoh

June 14, 2009 12:00am

AN Australian woman claims she was drugged, raped and bashed by three men in the Middle East - but when she reported it to police, she was thrown in jail.

The 27-year-old, who spent eight months in a Dubai prison, was released in February only because of an amnesty to celebrate a royal wedding.

She claims the Australian Government did nothing to help her.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph at her Brisbane home, the woman, who asked to be identified only as Amanda, said she had been charged with illicit sexual relations and drinking alcohol without a licence.

The rape occurred in June last year while Amanda was working as a manager at the exclusive Le Meridien resort, in Fujairah.

The last thing she remembers is going to the hotel staff bar on June 9 to order a drink.

At 4.30pm the next day, Amanda awoke, naked and alone in her bedroom. The door was open and her body was covered in bruises. Her ribs were broken.

"I realised I was in pain and had bruises all over me - I was shaky and really not well, and I had no idea what happened," Amanda said yesterday.

"I had missed 30 calls on my mobile, which was right near my head, and I didn't stir.

"I was told security had been called to my room during the night because I was screaming, and they had removed three men who had been in my room.

"Later, in court, they said they hadn't seen anything."

Amanda was advised by her employer to consider her options before she went to the authorities because she could be charged with drinking alcohol, which is forbidden under Islamic law. Scared and nervous, she contacted the Australian embassy.

Amanda said she was advised by an embassy official she would be drug-tested if she had been drugged and "if they found drugs in my system, I would be charged for taking drugs, and that's a sentence of 25 years".

"She said, 'Just leave, get out of the country.' I told my employer I wanted to go home, that I needed medical treatment and felt unsafe.

"They (her employer) were quite abusive and wouldn't help me. They had my passport."

Amanda went to a hospital, where it was confirmed she had been physically and sexually assaulted, with severe bruising on her thighs, between her legs, under her arms and behind her knees. The hospital advised her to report the incident to police.

After police allegedly arrested three men at the resort, Amanda was taken to a place she later found to be a courtroom and made a statement to police.

But the statement was in Arabic, and she was forced to sign it.

"I was in jail for two months before I went to court and the whole time I didn't know what the charges were. I had a lawyer, but he didn't speak English.

"The Australian embassy came to see me after a week, but they couldn't tell me why I was there or how long I would be there for.

Amanda, who was held captive for the first two months without charge, which is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, says she received no help from the Australian Government - a claim the Government denies.


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