A 22-year-old Dutch tourist who was jailed in Qatar for three months after being arrested on charges of committing adultery has been found guilty of engaging in "illicit consensual fornication". The woman had approached police to file a complaint that she was allegedly raped after being drugged at an upscale nightclub in the conservative Arab state.
During the court hearing in capital Doha on 13 June, the woman was given a one-year suspended sentence and placed on probation for three years for the sex-related charge. She was also fined 3,000 Qatari Riyals (£580, $823) for being drunk outside a licensed location and will be deported from the country as soon as she clears the fine.
The woman who has been identified only as "Laura" claimed she was at a party when she was allegedly drugged and that she only remembers waking up in an unfamiliar apartment, where she realised she had been raped. She soon approached authorities to report the alleged rape, but was placed under arrest instead.
The suspected rapist, Omar Abdullah al-Hasan claimed that the sex was consensual and that the false report was to extort money from him. The man, who is believed to be of Syrian origin, was also sentenced to 100 lashes for illicit fornication and was given additional 40 lashes for illegal consumption of alcohol.
Following the sentencing Dutch ambassador to Qatar, Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, said: "We will do everything we can to get her out of the country as soon as possible to where she says she wants to go."
A Qatari official stated that Laura's sentencing was "lenient" compared to what a Muslim woman would have been handed. "Had she been a Muslim woman, she would have received at least five years in jail. No one can get out of such charges here in Qatar," he said, according to Al Jazeera.
Article 281 of Qatar's penal code states: "Whoever copulates with a female over 16 without compulsion, duress or ruse shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to seven years. The same penalty shall also be imposed on the female for her consent."
The case has raised concerns over how the conservative Islamic country will deal with the large number of Western tourists when it hosts the 2022 Fifa World Cup.