Doha, Qatar – A Dutch woman who alleged she was drugged and raped is to appear in court on Monday, believed to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, a criminal offence in this Gulf state.
The woman, 22, said she was drugged during a party in March at the Crystal Lounge nightclub at the W Doha Hotel, and woke up in an unfamiliar apartment when she realised she had been sexually assaulted.
The Dutch woman, who was on vacation at the time, reported the incident to Qatari police and was immediately arrested. She has been held ever since on charges that still remain unclear.
Al Jazeera called the Qatari prosecutor’s office to confirm the charges and the nationality of the alleged assailant, but received no response by publication time.
One senior defence lawyer not involved in the case told Al Jazeera that the woman may face charges of having sex outside marriage, a serious crime under Qatar’s penal code.
The Dutch embassy in Doha told Al Jazeera that officials were in close contact with the woman and her family in the Netherlands.
“We have provided assistance to her since the first day of detention. For the sake of the defendant’s case, we will not make further comments at this point,” the Dutch embassy said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Sunday.
Doha-based attorney Najeeb al-Nuaimi – Qatar’s former justice minister who is not involved in the proceedings – told Al Jazeera that defence lawyers will have to prove there were “no voluntary actions” between the woman and the man.
He said that even if she was seen walking with the accused, the judge may have doubts, adding signs of force would need to be proved in a rape case.
If not, the judge would probably consider ruling against both for having sex outside marriage, which is known as “zina” under Islamic law. Nuaimi said such cases often end with a judge issuing a punishment involving “a number of lashes”.
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