An Australian woman who spent eight months in prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on charges of having sex outside of marriage after she was gang-raped told her harrowing story to Yahoo 7 News.
Alicia Gali told reporter Ross Coulthart she was working for an American hospitality company, Starwood Hotels, at the Meridien Al Aqah beach resort in the UAE when her room was flooded due to a backed-up drain. Gali was living at the hotel where she worked.
Gali told Yahoo 7 News she went to the hotel bar to use her laptop and have a drink since there was nowhere else to go. She said a fellow employee at the hotel refilled her glass with ice from an ice bucket, using a pair of tongs, but the next thing she remembers is waking up at 4:30 p.m. the next day, with four broken ribs and bruises all over her body.
Maintenance employees later found a man's shirt and a plastic bag had been used to stop the drain, perhaps in a ploy to force Gali to the hotel bar, Yahoo 7 News reports.
After reporting the rape to police, Gali was told to sign a statement in Arabic, which she later learned was a confession that she had drank alcohol and had sex outside marriage, she told Yahoo 7 News. Gali was sentenced to a year in prison, but was pardoned in 2009 after serving eight months, The Australian reported.
Years later, Gali's 2008 rape continues to affect her life. Last year, the Courier Mail reported that she was "diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder, is unable to work and has had to borrow money from friends and family to pay hospital and counseling."
Gali's case is not the first of a woman being charged with crimes after reporting rape to UAE authorities. The country has notoriously harsh laws that allow for prison sentences for crimes including drinking alcohol and gay sex in addition to having sex outside marriage.
A statement given by Starwood Hotels to Yahoo 7 News said the hotel "worked diligently on Ms. Gali's behalf" and that the men involved in the crime were prosecuted and served prison terms.