Dubai Pardons Rape Victim

Yes, you read that headline right:

A Norwegian woman at the centre of a Dubai rape case dispute has been pardoned and is free to leave Dubai, she has said.

Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped in March.

She reported the attack to the police, but was charged with perjury, having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol, receiving a 16-month prison sentence.

The case has angered rights groups and the Norwegian authorities.

Ms Dalelv has had her passport returned and was free to leave the country, a Norwegian official told the BBC. She was not being deported, and was expected to return to Norway in the next few days.

The designer, who has been staying at the Norwegian Seamen’s Centre in Dubai since she was sentenced last week, told the BBC she found out she was to be freed earlier on Monday during a meeting with public prosecutors.

The facts of the “case” against her aren’t unique to Dubai or other strictly Islamic nations:

Ms Dalelv says she was on a night out with colleagues on 6 March when the rape took place.

She reported it to the police, who proceeded to confiscate her passport and seize her money. She was charged four days later on three counts, including having sex outside marriage.

Her alleged attacker, she said, received a 13-month sentence for extramarital sex and alcohol consumption.

The man she accused of raping her – a colleague – has also been pardoned, a Norwegian official has said.

Why the man who raped her was freed is a mystery, but I suppose we can at least be thankful that she was freed. Of course, if it weren’t for the fact that she was a citizen of a Western nation whose case had received worldwide attention I doubt this would have happened. The United Arab Emirates may be an American ally of convenience, but I think we can all agree that laws like this are quite simply outrageous. Indeed, I’m not sure why a Western woman without the protection of being protected by diplomatic immunity or membership in the military of her nation would travel unaccompanied to a nation with laws like this.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Middle East, Policing, Religion, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    This was a simple, straight-up application of Islamic laws. A charge of rape requires two witnesses. Without those witnesses, the complainant has made an open admission of fornication (or adultery, if married) and is punished under that law.

    Why did the guy go free? It would hardly be fair to punish one party in a case of fornication and not the other. She goes free, so he goes free.

    Look, we’re supposed to respect other cultures and other ways, and obey the laws of other countries when we visit them.

    One non-sarcastic note on this story: apparently the employer of the two people involved is Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, also known as the third Mr. Janet Jackson.

  2. Matt says:

    Just another reason not to go to Duabi, horrible place.