Dutch woman in Qatar jail after rape report

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Laura de Bije, Utrecht woman in custody in Qatar after reporting being raped in March 2016 (Photo: Free Laura/Facebook). Laura de Bije, Utrecht woman in custody in Qatar after reporting being raped in March 2016 (Photo: Free Laura/Facebook)

Utrecht woman Laura de Bije has been in prison in the Qatar capital of Doha since Marh. She was visiting the Middle-Eastern country on holiday and was arrested after reporting being raped. The 22-year-old woman will appear in court on Monday on charges of having sex outside marriage - a serious crime under Qatar's penal code, local news site Al-Jazeera reports.

The case is complicated by Laura giving several different statements on what happened to her, according to Tubantia. She is now sticking to the statement that she was drugged at a club and realized that she was sexually assaulted when she woke up in a strange hotel room. But she previously stated that the sex was consensual and in another statement she said she did it for money.

A further complication is that she was in the country with a friend Lisa, who can be seen on various sex sites as a prostitute. Lisa confirmed this to Tubantia. "Everyone knows it. I don't want to say anything further to the media."

Laura's mother Marian, who only recently found out her daughter was imprisoned in Qatar and not holidaying in France like she said, is receiving frequent calls from her daughter's alleged rapist's family, she said to AD. According to her, the man's family is urging her to have Laura marry their son, who is also in custody for having sex outside marriage. The Qatar based lawyer assisting Laua is urging her to do the same, but her mother needs to give permission.

The Dutch woman's position became more difficult when her passport photo showed her wearing a headscarf, showing her to be a Muslim who "should have known" that drinking alcohol and having sex outside marriage are against the rules, according to Tubantia. Marian says that her daughter suddenly decided to become a Muslim a few years ago. "She said it once. But are then immediately Muslim?"

An attorney not involved in the case explained to Al-Jazeera that Laura's defense will have to prove that there were "no voluntary actions" between the Dutch woman and her alleged rapist. According to the lawyer, if they were even seen walking together, it would complicate the case. Sings of force will have to be proven in a rape case. The lawyer added that the punishment for sex outside marriage, know as "zina" under Islamic law, usually involves "a number of lashes".

The Dutch embassy in Doha is assisting Laura. "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", the embassy said to Al-Jazeera in a statement on Sunday.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar has "a strong case" against Laura based on a preliminary investigation that included a doctor's examination, witness statements and camera footage, Marian said to AD. Official charges against the woman are expected on Monday.

Laura's family is now maintaining media silence, her lawyer Brian Lokollo said to the Telegraaf on Sunday. "We achieved our goal: attention for her case was generated and we succeeded in putting the issue on the political agenda", he said. On Saturday several political parties posed parliamentary questions on the matter.

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