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Dubai to charge Austrian woman for illegal sex

Austrian rape victim allowed to return home

An Austrian woman arrested by police in the UAE for having sex out of marriage when she complained she had been raped has been allowed to return home to Vienna.

The 29-year-old was facing a jail sentence having been accused of having extra marital sex and consuming alcohol, both of which is illegal in the United Arab Emirate capital.

She had been to a party at a hotel where the rules on alcohol are often lax, according to Austrian officials.

The Muslim woman, who went to the police to tell them that she had been raped in an underground car park by a Yemeni man in Dubai, had been told that she could escape being charged if she agreed to marry the man she said had attacked her.

The student from Vienna was released after a special crisis team was sent by the Austrian Foreign Ministry to Dubai to negotiate with the authorities. She was greeted by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as she arrived back in to Vienna airport Thursday evening.

An online petition also helped to bring attention to the situation, gaining over 260,000 signatures calling for her release in just a few days.

The quick release came as a surprise as there was a chance that, as a Muslim, the woman would have been treated more severely than non-Muslim Western visitors in trouble with police because of the strict Islamic rules surrounding drinking.

The case has been compared to that of a 24-year-old Norwegian woman who was given a prison sentence of one year and four months by a Dubai court after she reported her own rape last year. Instead of being treated as a victim, she was found guilty of alcohol abuse and extramarital sex.

She was later pardoned and allowed to return to Norway after there was a global outcry about her treatment.

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