Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Sunday, 9 May 2010 11:19 UK

Woman jailed for kissing in Dubai calls for law reform

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

A British woman jailed for kissing a man in public in Dubai has accused the Gulf state of "hypocrisy" over its strict decency laws.

Charlotte Adams, 26, from Essex, was released on Friday after serving one month in jail for kissing Ayman Najafi in a restaurant last November.

The couple insisted it was a peck on the cheek but a woman complained that they were kissing on the mouth.

Ms Adams has called for the laws to be changed to match the culture in Dubai.

Mr Najafi, a management consultant from north London who has lived in Dubai for the past 18 months, is believed to be appealing his sentence after being backed by his employers.

Dangerous behaviour

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Ms Adams claimed that free alcohol is available at some hotels in Dubai although drinking in public is still officially illegal in the Gulf state.

"Everyone gets so drunk they forget where they are, particularly the Westerners, which is when their behaviour can become dangerous legally.

"The laws need to evolve to match the culture here. At the moment, it's all just hypocrisy."

The British Embassy has issued a formal "don't-do" list on its website, warning against drinking and kissing or holding hands in public in Dubai.

It tells holidaymakers and expats: "If you want to face possible arrest and imprisonment, ignore the advice."

In 2008, two Britons accused of having sex on the beach were sentenced to three months in jail, although their sentences were later suspended.

Flirting

Ms Adams, who met Mr Najafi through friends while on an evening out, said she had found him attractive but insisted it was nothing more than "flirting".

Ayman Najafi
Ayman Najafi is said to be appealing against his conviction

"I would have spoken to Ayman and touched his arm. I was probably flirting with him a bit, tossing my hair and being a bit girly.

"I may have pecked him on the cheek at one point.

"But we weren't drunk and I would never have snogged someone in the middle of a crowded restaurant, especially in Dubai and especially as Ayman's friends were there."

After their arrest, Ms Adams was held in a cell at a police station with up to 100 other women.

She said of the conditions: "The stench hits you when you walk in. There was just a room filled with stained mattresses so close they had been pushed up the walls."

Reflecting on her experience, she added: "If my case has stopped other people from doing something more serious, then it's been worth it.

"This hasn't destroyed me, it hasn't changed me. I can wake up tomorrow and feel normal. I don't feel scarred by it and I'm not ashamed of my behaviour.

"I know who I am and I'm proud of that."



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