The story broke this week about a Dutch woman who is being deported back to The Netherlands from Qatar for being raped. It was difficult to read the story and not have so many emotions rattled deep within me. In my eyes rape is rape. Sex without consent is rape. Sex with someone who is unconscious is rape. Sex with someone outside of marriage is morally wrong but not illegal, at least not in this side of the world so it seems.
Upon hearing that a court in Qatar has convicted and detained a 22-year old woman from Utrecht for reporting rape is outrageous, enough so that I head to read the headline twice. Islamic laws leave a lot to be desired at the best of times compared to our westernised cultures and there are clearly many issues with it, many of which I have spoken about before.
The facts from the BBC (you can decided its credibility yourself) tell us that the woman had been drinking in an area of Doha, where drinking was legal, found her drink spiked which caused her to feel unwell, she then found herself in unfamiliar surrounds having been raped. The alleged attacker claims the sex was consensual. It’s the classic rape story, which sounds bad but sadly it is. More often than not these are the circumstances in which rape occurs. This is “rape culture” in the 21st Century.
Here’s where the situation gets ludicrous. Both were arrested. The woman was given a years probationary sentence and fined the equivalent to £580 which, until paid, meant that she was detained for some THREE months after the event. The man was sentenced to 140 lashes for “having sex outside of marriage and consuming alcohol”.
In the same week as the “campus rape” story of Brock Turner in the US has been through the press one has to question the ethics of the world. Turner was accused and found guilty of raping an unconscious woman received just 6 months imprisonment with the woman having the entire world express opinion on her “alleged” attack. I use the word alleged even though personally I believe he did it knowing full well what he was doing! The full details of that case can be read here and i urge you to do so.
Apparently the Dutch woman’s legal team would have to prove there had been “no voluntary actions” between her and the man for him to be charged with rape. Well come on, how does one prove one was unconscious. Did they even offer her a drug test? Did they give her the benefit of the doubt and consider her a victim for even one minute before detaining and criminalising her?
Article 281 of Qatar’sArticle 281 of Qatar’s penal code states: “Whoever copulates with a female over 16 without compulsion, duress or ruse shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to seven years. The same penalty shall also be imposed on the female for her consent.” So basically, sex outside of marriage is grounds for prosecution and imprisonment (try enforcing that on the rest of the world) but because rape can’t be proven this law seems to supersede any grounds for reasonable doubt in this case in Qatar. Firstly, when travelling to foreign lands such as UAE with such different laws it might be an idea to check their customs especially those that can lead to imprisonment. However, should the Dutch woman not have been raped why would she have handed herself in for something that can’t be proven unless caught in the act i.e. sex. The lady in question reported an attacker to the police most likely for fear of him doing the same thing to someone else. What kind of a message does this send out to other women who have been attacked? You wouldn’t report anything if you thought you’d end up in prison for being a victim! Stats from the UK suggest that 9/10 rapes are not reported and with just a 6% conviction rate is there any wonder why?
The law on rape in the Netherlands states that: “A person who by an act of violence or another act or by threat of violence or threat of another act compels a person to submit to acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is guilty of rape and liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than twelve years or a fine of the fifth category.”
According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Netherlands had the fourth highest prevalence rate of physical and sexual violence against women in Europe, with 45% of women having experienced such violence, some 12% higher than the european average.
The big football fan that I am (NOT) this case makes me fearful of just what might happen when the World Cup goes to Qatar in 2022. We’ve seen during the current Euros the alcohol consumption and violence has led to the French banning alcohol at matches. You put these same people in a country where you are flogged for petty reasons or imprisoned for drinking in the wrong postcode it is only going to cause more issues between Qatari laws and the West. I understand and accept that some countries have more strict rules on drinking etc. and maybe some EU countries should be a little stricter but beatings and imprisonment for drinking alcohol is not something we see enforced the world over.
Whether you want to believe the rape story or not imprisoning people on the grounds of having sex is ludicrous. I can’t imagine how that woman must have felt having been sexually violated and then imprisoned on the basis of reporting it when half the world away in America a guy gets found guilty and only receives a 6 month sentence of which he will probably serve a little over 2.
Rape is sex without consent regardless to what country you find yourself in.