A woman named only as Laura has been in a jail in Qatar since mid-March, having been convicted by the courts for “illicit consensual fornication” and being “drunk in a public place.” She was arrested after reporting her rape.
On Monday, a new court hearing put the 22-year-old on a one-year suspended sentence. She’s been placed on probation for three years and was fined 3,000 Qatari Riyals ($823) for drinking. CNN reports that she will likely be deported from the country immediately. They also say that the word “rape” did not come up once during her last hearing:
According to Brian Lokollo, a lawyer who was hired by the woman’s family, Laura was at a hotel bar having drinks with a friend in the Qatari capital, but then had a drink that made her feel “very unwell.”
She reportedly woke up in an unfamiliar location and realized “to her great horror” that she had been raped after her drink was spiked, Lokollo said.
When she reported the rape to the police, she herself was imprisoned.
According to Qatar’s Penal Code 2004 (Law No. 11), “anyone who copulates with a female above sixteen without compulsion, duress or ruse is convicted to no more than seven years in prison. The same penalty is also imposed on the female for her consent.”
“Fornication outside of marriage” is a crime in Qatar, and there seems to be no other description for rape. The New York Times points to a similar case from 2013, in which a Norwegian woman in the U.A.E. was sentenced to 16 months after reporting a sexual assault to the police.
Image via AP.