'They Destroyed Me': French Teen's Rape Case Exposes Dubai's Dark Side

Veronique Robert says the Dubai authorities twice assured there was no threat of sexually transmitted disease, even though there was a report identifying one of the attackers as being HIV positive in government files for years.

"I'm so furious, I cannot tell you how I'm furious, you know, and I said why they lie, they just play with the life of Alex," said Veronique Robert.

The Case Against Alex

Homosexuality is against the law in the UAE, where anyone found guilty of sodomy faces years in jail.

The Dubai government denies that the doctor accused Alex of being gay or that he was ever at risk of being charged with homosexuality. But Robert Jongeryck, the French consul, was so worried a case was being built against Alex as an illegal homosexual he advised the boy and his mother to flee Dubai before he was arrested.

"I think that if we had not reacted and asked the authorities to do something, probably Alexandre would have been charged," said Jongeryck.

A Victorian Value System?

Arab-American psychiatrist Dr. Raymond Hamden works in the Dubai courts and says it's important for foreigners to remember that while everything looks modern there, it is a young, developing city.

"It's no different than were we in America were a hundred years ago, right after or during the end of the Victorian era," said Hamden. "Even though we are seeing globalization, in the city that has defined globalization, were still seeing a value system that still looks like new Victorians."

Dr. Habib al-Mulla, an attorney and government spokesman, defends the social conservatism that makes homosexuality a crime in Dubai.

"Every country and every culture has…its own values, its own morals, and the laws and legislations reflect the way every society looks at those morals," Al-Mulla said.

"This is a conservative society. Homosexuality, conducted homosexuality is an illegal act. And we are not ashamed of that."

"So, when you invite people to come [to Dubai], are you inviting everyone but homosexuals?" ABC News' Jim Avila asked the spokesman.

"Everyone is more than welcomed to come," said al-Mulla. "However, no one is welcome to commit any illegal activity."

In an environment where homosexuality is a crime, can a victim of "forcible homosexuality," as the law calls it, be treated fairly under the law?

The trial is big news in Dubai. The two adult defendants, both of whom faced the death penalty, have denied all charges. Veronique Robert says she was in juvenile court -- closed to the press -- when the local boy who first led Alex and his friend into the car pled guilty to charges of kidnapping, threatening, and rape. Because he is a minor he does not face execution.

"I'm sure the court will deal with this [verdict] in a fair and reasonable manner," said government spokesman Al-Mulla, leaving open the possibility that what happened to Alex would lead to some reforms in the handling of rape cases.

"We will look into the system, we'll see if there was anything deficient. And if we believe that there is any room for…improvement in that system of course we'll do that."

Armed with the promise that he would not be prosecuted, Alex returned to Dubai to testify against his alleged attackers, a moment he will never forget.

"You could read it in their eyes, they were saying like, if we go out, if we find you, my God, poor kid, run for your life, run for your life, if we get you, you're dead," he said.

Veronique Robert relentlessly warns anyone who will listen not to go to Dubai expecting a world-class justice system. She has even created a Web site called www.boycottdubai.com designed to hit the emirate where it hurts -- in the carefully cultivated image put forth to tourists and visitors.

"A part of me is really sad," she said. "I was loving Dubai, I was loving to come here to visit my child, [to] go to the beach with Alex…seven years of my life…it's gone. I think I will not come here…I will never see Dubai with the same eyes."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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