Dubai rape case a 'dictatorship holiday'

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A beach in Dubai. File photo: Keith Parker/Flikr
10:58 CEST+02:00
A prominent Swedish editorial writer has questioned why Scandinavian tourists visit authoritarian regimes, stating that the jailing of a Norwegian rape victim in Dubai illustrated the paradoxes of "dictatorship holidays".

"The legislation in the United Arab Emirates is just as absurdly disgusting as it sounds, that is also true for women who live there," said editorial writer Kristina Lindquist in the Wednesday edition of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Wednesday.

Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, was convicted of extra-marital sex, inebriation and perjury in Dubai last week and sentenced to jail for 16 months. The verdict has created headlines worldwide, with Norway's foreign minister an outspoken critic of the decision. Dalelv, who had first reported being raped, was pardoned by Emirate authorities this week. 

LIndquist, meanwhile, underscored that the UAE not only has locked up some 90 political dissidents, but has, according the human rights group Amnesty, defended "pain and suffering" as a legitimate punishment in its legal system.

"But have a nice time on holiday!" Lindquist summarized, adding that it was time to question whether it was appropriate to visit countries with documented human and civil rights problems. She also underlined how Scandinavian passports give their bearers almost unprecedented rights of access across the globe.

"The magic Swedish passport (in combination with dough, of course) allows freedom of movement that is rarely questioned."  

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"Sure, the foreign ministry has an absolute responsibility to help its citizens abroad - not least in such a surreal and violating situation in which the Norwegian woman has found herself . But what kind of Scandinavian film do we expect to protect our bodies?" she wrote.

"There must be something, as we Swedes happily travel to countries where the hatred of women is written into the law books." 

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