Skip to main content

Dutch woman held in Qatar after making rape complaint

The 22-year-old says she was drugged and raped while on holiday, but has been held for three months in Qatar on suspicion of adultery
The 22-year-old known only as Laura is being held in Qatar (AFP)

A 22-year-old Dutch woman is being held in Qatar on suspicion of adultery after she said she was raped while on holiday there, her lawyer and Dutch media said on Saturday.

The woman says she was drugged in a hotel, and that she realised she had been raped when she woke up in an unfamiliar apartment.

"She was arrested in March on suspicion of adultery, which means having sex outside marriage," lawyer Brian Lokollo told Dutch radio NOS-Radio1.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed the arrest but said the young woman, whom she named as Laura, has not been charged.

Daphne Kerremans added that "the enquiry is ongoing" and that Dutch authorities are in regular contact with Laura.

On Saturday a social media campaign was laucnhed calling for Laura to be released. 

The woman's lawyer said that the case concerns a trip his client made in March to a Qatar hotel where the consumption of alcohol is allowed.

"She went dancing, but when she returned to the table after the first sip of her drink, she realised that" she had been drugged, her lawyer said. "She felt very unwell."

The young woman remembers nothing more until the following morning when she woke up in a totally unfamiliar apartment "and realised to her great horror, that she had been raped," he said.

The suspected rapist, who is reported to be a Qatari man, was also arrested, but insisted that their night together had been consensual and that the woman had even asked for money.

"She completely denies these accusations," Lokollo said.

A court hearing is set to take place on Monday and the foreign ministry hopes a decision on whether to charge the Dutch woman will be taken.

Ahead of the hearing hundreds of people on social media are calling for her release under the hashtag #FreeLaura.

Speaking to Dutch media Laura's mother Marian, said: "I'm constantly put under pressure to let my daughter marry her rapist. [I get] text messages from an unkown number in Lebanon which call for consent to a marriage between Laura {and her rapist]."

A spokesperson for the Dutch embassy in Qatar told local media: “The Dutch government and embassy are in close contact with the defendant and her family in the Netherlands. We have provided assistance to her since the first day of detention. For the sake of the defendant’s case we will not make further comments at this point.”

In 2013 a 24-year-old Norwegian woman who brought a rape complaint against her boss was jailed for 16 months in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates for so-called indecent behaviour, perjury and alcohol consumption. She was later pardoned by the authorities.