Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

UK couple charged with illegal sex released in Dubai

A beach in Dubai
Dubai strict sexual conduct laws have caught out foreigners in the past

The authorities in Dubai have dropped charges of illegal sex outside marriage against a British couple.

Police arrested the 23-year-old woman and her 44-year-old boyfriend after she made a report that she had been raped.

They were arrested because they were staying in a room together and admitted having sex. They were in Dubai celebrating their engagement.

Prosecutors also dropped charges against an Indian waiter the couple accused of raping the woman.

The pair will still face charges of drinking alcohol without permission.

On New Years Eve the woman reported that she had been raped after passing out in the toilet of the hotel bar.

But during investigations police arrested the couple. They said there was no evidence the woman had been raped.

'Victims punished'

Sex outside marriage is illegal in the Gulf Arab Emirate.

Charges were dropped against the couple, who were reportedly on bail, after they produced a marriage certificate, local media reported.

Rights groups had condemned the case and called on the Dubai police to investigate the case properly.

"The message to women is clear: victims will be punished for speaking out and seeking justice, but sexual assault itself will not be properly investigated," Nadya Khalife of Human Rights Watch said.

Dubai's strict laws about extra marital sex have caught out British visitors in the past.

In 2008 a couple, Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, were caught having sex on the beach, they were arrested and charged with having sex before marriage.

They fought a lengthy battle against imprisonment.

Marnie Pearce, a 40-year-old British mother is currently in jail after being found guilty of adultery after the relationship with her husband broke down.

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