Filipina jailed after reporting 'rape' to face court

A Filipina who has been in custody for more than four months after reporting a rape, is due to appear in court next month.

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DUBAI // A Filipina who has been in custody for more than four months since reporting a rape to police is due to appear in court early next month.

The woman identified by the Philippine consulate as AS, 23, has been detained at Al Muraqqabat police station on charges of consensual sex since December 8.

She said she did not request a UAE-based lawyer to defend her during a consular visit on April 6.

"I don't know why I am here," she said on April 18. "I was the one who complained. I did it to prevent other women from being victimised."

On Thursday, a public prosecution source said the charges had been changed to prostitution. The source said that investigations had taken a long time because it was not an easy case. More than six forensics reports were compiled to confirm whether or not a rape occurred, the source said.

Earlier this month, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila said in a statement that consulate representatives in Dubai visited the woman in jail, where she recounted her ordeal.

A report sent by the Dubai consulate to the DFA said the woman was being held at Al Muraqqabat station for "alleged immorality offences".

The woman alleged that a man she met at a party offered her a ride to another party. When they reached the venue, there was no one there and he raped her. The consulate identified the man as a Pakistani. Another Pakistani posing as a policeman arrived and asked for her identification papers. She was asked to enter a bathroom, where she said she was raped a second time.

Her money, telephone and camera were taken from her, and she was told that she could recover them from Al Muraqqabat police station. Police there took her into custody on immorality charges, the report said.

AS said on April 19 that she just wanted to return to the Philippines to be with her four-year-old son. She arrived in Dubai on a tourist visa in September last year.

Jhasmine Castillo-Cipriano, co-ordinator of the UAE chapter of Gabriela (General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action) said the group hoped to meet with consular officials to discuss the woman's case.

"We'd like to let her know that we are on her side," Mrs Castillo-Cipriano said. "We want to assure her that there is an organisation that she can turn to for help."

She said proper co-ordination was needed between the Philippine consulate and Dubai authorities. "Gabriela would like to emphasise that she is a victim. The suspects should be brought to justice and the travel agency or recruiter who brought the Filipina to Dubai should also be held accountable," Mrs Castillo-Cipriano said.

Meanwhile, AS refuted the statements made to the media by her mother earlier this month. In an interview on a local Philippine television station on April 5, AS's mother said her daughter complained that she was being abused every night while in prison.

"It's just a rumour," AS said. "My mother got the wrong information from other people. I issued an affidavit to assure everyone that I'm being treated well here."

Benito Valeriano, the consul general in Dubai, confirmed that the woman had issued an affidavit to the consulate contradicting her mother's allegations.

* With additional reporting by Salam al Amir