On New Year's Eve, a 23-year-old British woman on vacation in Dubai decided to let loose and party. She had plenty to celebrate -- not only was she ringing in 2010 at a spectacular luxury hotel with her fiance, but she also had their brand-new engagement to revel in. After one too many drinks, though, she ended up passing out in the women's bathroom of the Address Hotel. It's the sort of tale the couple might have gone on to laughingly recall -- except for what happened next: a male employee allegedly entered the restroom and raped her. The waking nightmare only got worse: When she and her 44-year-old fiance reported the attack the next day, they were both tossed in jail and charged with having sex outside of marriage. The woman's alleged rapist, who claims the pair had consensual sex, received the same charge.
The details of what happened are vague, but the information that has surfaced comes as no surprise. Who can forget about the British pair charged with "illicit relations, public indecency and public intoxication" and sentenced to three months in jail for having sex on a Dubai beach in the summer of 2008? Just the year before, a French 15-year-old boy reported that he had been raped by a group of Emirati men, and was cautioned against pressing charges and evaluated by a doctor for potential homosexuality, all while being left vulnerable to being charged with unlawful gay sex. In other words: Victim, smictim. This is the same country struggling with a groping problem on tourist beaches and a thriving sex trade.
It just goes to show, you can erect the world's tallest building, design a mind-blowing underwater hotel and create a palm tree-shaped island in a country with a horrifically outdated legal system ... but it's still a country with a horrifically outdated legal system. It's safe to say I won't be going to Dubai any time soon.