DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Norwegian woman at the center of a Dubai rape claim dispute said Sunday that officials have dropped her 16-month sentence for having sex outside marriage and she is free to leave the country.
“I am very, very happy,” Marte Deborah Dalelv told The Associated Press. “I am overjoyed.”
The sentence against the 24-year-old Dalelv last week stirred widespread outrage in the West and highlighted the frequent clash between Dubai’s Western-friendly image and its Islamic-based legal codes.
Dalelv claimed she was raped in March by a co-worker, but was charged with having sex outside marriage after going to the police. Her decision to go public about the sentence last week in a series of interviews appeared to put pressure on authorities in Dubai and tarnish the city’s reputation as a cosmopolitan hub, including possible fallout on its high-profile bid for the 2020 World Expo.
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A Norwegian woman sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai for having sex outside marriage after she reported an alleged rape said Friday she decided to speak out in hopes of drawing attention to the risks of outsiders misunderstanding the Islamic-influenced legal codes in this cosmopolitan city.
The case has drawn outrage from rights groups and others in the West since the 24-year-old interior designer was sentenced Wednesday. It also highlights the increasingly frequent tensions between the United Arab Emirates’ international atmosphere and its legal system, which is strongly influenced by Islamic traditions in a nation where foreign workers and visitors greatly outnumber locals.
“I have to spread the word. … After my sentence we thought, ‘How can it get worse?”’ Marte Deborah Dalelv told The Associated Press in an interview at a Norwegian aid compound in Dubai where she is preparing her appeal scheduled for early September.
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