Doha.- Members of a women’s rights organization asked the authorities of Taste drop charges against Paola SchietekatMexican woman accused in the Arab country for denouncing a sexual assault.
Paola Schietekat28, declared having been assaulted on June 6, 2021 by a foreign man who entered her apartment in Doha, Qatar, at night to sexually assault her.
The woman, who claims to have suffered sexual abuse in her adolescence, then went to the Mexican embassy with photographs of the abuse and reported the case to the local justice, governed by Islamic laws.
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That same day, the accused aggressor stated that she was “his girlfriend.” This would mean a sexual relationship outside of marriage, considered a crime in Qatar, which according to Schietekat would lead to a punishment of one hundred lashes and at least seven years in prison.
“At a certain point they demanded a virginity test from me. For some reason I had become the accused,” the complainant wrote on her blog about the case.
Both FIFA and support groups said they were monitoring developments in the case. Schietekat returned to Mexico on July 25, where he continues to work for the Organizing Committee, awaiting the next hearing before a Qatari court on March 6.
Qatari authorities have not commented on the case.
The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) asked Taste end this court case. “The Qatari authorities should immediately drop these charges that are not recognized by international law and should instead investigate the physical assault he reported,” said Rothna Begum, an expert on women’s rights for the NGO.
HRW also called on Qatar to repeal legislation criminalizing consensual sexual relations between unmarried adults and to provide better medical and legal support victims of sexual assault, especially in the run-up to the World Cup, where 1.2 million visitors are expected.
“During major sporting events like the World Cup, the risk of sexual violence is greatly increased by the number of people present,” notes HRW.
In Qatar, “the police do not usually believe women who report violence, particularly foreign women,” Behum stresses.
The Qatari law on sexual relations between couples who are not married constitutes a “real risk” for women, who could be persecuted like Schietekat, the expert believes.
Fifa said it was “aware of the situation involving Schietekat” and that after the attack he had to “receive all appropriate care and assistance”.
Women are “at increased risk of sexual assault” in all competitions, said Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe, a network of European supporter groups.
At the end of 2020, another incident put the spotlight on the treatment of women in Qatar. Female passengers on several Qatar Airways flights have complained of being forced to undergo gynecological examinations to try to find the mother of an abandoned baby in Doha airport toilets.
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As the World Cup approaches (November 21-December 18), Qatar, an ultra-conservative Muslim monarchy, is struggling to convince skeptics of its progress on women’s rights, labor rights and democracy.
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