UPDATED: Marte Deborah Dalelv, the young Norwegian woman who was jailed in Dubai after she’d reported being raped there, finally came home to Norway on Wednesday. She now admits she made an “incredibly stupid” mistake of withdrawing her rape claim after initially filing it last March, since the withdrawal is probably what landed her in jail.
Dalelv, who was pardoned on Monday, left Dubai Tuesday night after finally securing an exit visa, and arrived at Sandefjord Airport Torp shortly after 11am on Wednesday, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). She was met at the airport by her mother, Evelyn Dalelv, who gave her daughter a long, tearful hug, according to eyewitnesses.
“I’m very happy to be home,” Dalelv told NRK’s reporter at the scene, after a legal nightmare in Dubai that climaxed with her conviction last week for drinking alcohol and engaging in extramarital sex, both of which are considered criminal acts in Dubai.
Legal documents from her court case obtained by local state-owned newspaper The National, however, suggest she got into trouble because she withdrew her rape charge against a work colleague six days after first filing it in March, on the advice of their employer. “That’s the biggest mistake I made,” Dalelv told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten. “It was incredibly stupid of me, but it was what I was advised to do.”
Dalelv told Aftenposten that she had asked her colleague to escort her to her room on the fateful evening in March because she was drunk. He instead escorted her to his room, with The National reporting that hotel video introduced as evidence in the Dubai court shows the two walking with Dalelv’s arm around his waist and her head leaning on his shoulder. Dalelv still claims she woke up to being raped by him the next day, but withdrew the charge because her employer thought it would be too hard to prove in a Dubai court.
Difficult for all involved
Dalelv told Aftenposten that when she then was asked whether the sex with her colleague was voluntary, she said yes. Under Dubai law, according to The National, prosecutors thus had “no choice” but to charge both her and her colleague of illegal extramarital sex, drinking alcohol illegally and, in her case, making false statements about being raped. Both were later convicted in a case that has been difficult for both Dalelv, the Norwegian authorities who protested her conviction, and the Dubai authorities who remain faced with international protests and a possible tourism boycott for enforcing their laws against extramarital sex and illegal consumption of alcohol.
Jomfrureiser, a Norwegian travel agency organizing package tours exclusively for women, on Tuesday cancelled a Dubai tour scheduled for November, offering its clients a refund or a trip to other destinations. Norwegian Air, meanwhile, said it had no plans to make changes to its Dubai business. “We’re a travel operator and not into politics,” a spokesperson said.
Dalelv’s mother said she planned to serve her daughter traditional Norwegian meatballs (kjøttkaker) for dinner on Wednesday. Marte Dalelv said she was “looking very much forward to eat pork,” which is not always available in Islamic countries like Dubai.