x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Prostitute jailed after reporting rape

Advocates complain that a woman's false claim of rape makes it worse for those who have actually been sexually assaulted.

DUBAI // A prostitute who visited a police station to report a rape has been jailed for six months.

The Filipina woman, AS, 23, went to Al Muraqqabat station in December to report the attack when she was arrested for "immorality offences".

She was held there for five months while an investigation and court case were conducted.

The case has prompted an outcry from rights groups, who fear AS's treatment could deter other women from reporting sexual violence.

"Although she may have engaged in prostitution, it doesn't necessarily mean that men can take advantage of her weakness," said Nhel Morona, the secretary general of Migrante UAE, a rights group for foreign workers.

"She was raped and she has every right to report it.

"We are saddened by this turn of events. I hope this particular case will not deter other women from reporting a rape."

A consular official who attended the hearing yesterday said AS would be transferred to the Dubai Central Jail in Al Aweer this week.

"As a woman, I feel enraged," said Jhasmine Castillo-Cipriano, the co-ordinator for the UAE chapter of Gabriela (General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action). "She was unable to defend her rights as a rape victim."

Last month, Manila's department of foreign affairs instructed their consulate in Dubai to visit AS at Muraqqabat station.

The consulate reported that she was being held on "immorality offences". She was later convicted of prostitution charges.

AS said a Pakistani man she met at a party had offered her a ride to another party. She said that when they reached the venue, no one else was there and he raped her. Another Pakistani posing as a policeman arrived and asked for her identification papers. She was then raped a second time, she said.

The men took her money, telephone and camera and told her she could recover them at Al Muraqqabat police station. But police there arrested her on immorality charges.

She did not ask for a lawyer to represent her in court and said she wanted to return to the Philippines to be with her four-year-old son. She arrived in Dubai on a tourist visa in September 2010.

"My daughter has been in jail for months," AS's 49-year-old mother said from her home in San Pablo City in the Philippines. "Her son has been asking us when she'll be back. We hope our government can help us send her home soon."

Benito Valeriano, the consul general in Dubai, said the consulate would help AS.

"She has already served some time and will be deported after serving her sentence," he said. "If she does not have an air ticket to return home, we will ask Manila for one."

rruiz@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Salam al Amir