A 24-year-old Norwegian woman who was convicted and sentenced with having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol after reporting her rape to police in Dubai is officially pardoned, according to reports.
Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv spoke to CNN about her 16-month prison sentence in Dubai stemming from the police report she made after had being raped by a colleague.
Dalelv's story has raised concern for the treatment of sexual assault victims in the United Arab Emirates.
According to CNN, Dalelv been working at an interior design firm in Qatar since September 2011, and the assault happened during a work trip to Dubai in March with three of her co-workers.
Dalelv went out for drinks with her colleagues and friends, and after a long night at the bar, she asked a male colleague walk her back to her room. It was 3 a.m. when the two returned to the hotel, and Dalelv asked the male coworker to take her to her room. Dalelv said the hotel was large and confusing, so she was afraid she'd wander in the state she was in.
When the two reached the hotel room, Dalelv realized it was not hers and told CNN the male forcefully pulled her into the room, even after she vocally refused.
"He dragged me by my purse in, so I thought, 'OK, I just need to calm the situation down. I will finish my bottle of water, I will sit here and then I will excuse myself and say I feel fine,'" Dalelv told CNN.
It was the last thing Dalelv could remember before the assault.
"I woke up with my clothes off, sleeping on my belly, and he was raping me. I tried to get off, I tried to get him off, but he pushed me back down," she told CNN.
Dalelv was able to get dressed and make her way to the hotel reception to call the police.
About 10 or 12 male police officers arrived, but no female authorities were present, and they took the statements from Dalelv and the alleged rapists.
"They asked me, 'Are you sure you called the police because you just didn't like it?' I said, 'Well of course I didn't like it.' That is when I knew, I don't think they are going to believe me at all," Dalelv said.
Law enforcement officials took Dalelv for an intimate medical exam and tested for alcohol consumption. According to CNN, her belongings were taken and kept in jail for four days with no explanation why. Dalelv was able to contact her parents, who then contacted the Norwegian Embassy.
Dubai authorities did not return her passport.
Officials handed Dalelv a paper listing the charges against her: one for sex outside of marriage and the other for public consumption of alcohol. According to CNN, both are "violations of the law in the United Arab Emirates."
Dalelv stayed Norwegian Seaman's Center in Dubai pending the charges. She took the advise of her work manager who told her that if she recanted her statement, the "issue would go away."
She followed the advice, and was charged with making a false statement.
"That was my biggest regret because it wasn't voluntary. I just thought it would all go away," she told CNN.
A month after her rape, she was fired from Al Mana Interiors, along with her alleged rapist.
Al Mana Interiors spokesman Hani El Korek released a statement to CNN, saying the company was sympathetic to Dalelv "during this very difficult situation." It also said that company representatives were by her side through the initial investigation, spending "days at both the police station and the prosecutor's office to help win her release."
"Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her," the statement said. "The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status."
According to CNN, "Dalelv was convicted on all three charges and was sentenced to one year in jail for having unlawful sex, three months in jail for making a false statement and one month for illegal consumption of alcohol."
The case against Dalelv angered Norwegian authorities and civil rights groups.
Dalelv had been staying at Norwegian Seamen's Centre in Dubai since her sentence last week, and met with public prosecutors where she was told she was pardoned, according to multiple reports.
"We came in and we sat down and they told us 'You've been pardoned'. It's from the ruler of Dubai. It's from him personally so that's - it just feels unbelievable - it's a very, very good day," Dalelv told BBC News.
To read Dalelv's full CNN report, click here.