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We in the west can become flippant with the realities of our freedoms that we take for granted. It can sometimes be a huge wake up call as we travel, work or holiday abroad only to find that the norms we take for granted do not apply.

Remember what we believe is our reality it might not be someone elses be that an individual or a state.

With Qatar chosen to host the World Cup in 2022, becoming, with Dubai a major tourist destination and many multi-national organisations operating across the region its important that we recognise social, cultural and legal differences exist.

From a modern western point of view seeing news reports such as that of the Dutch rape victim being convicted of adultery in Qatar (See BBC report) we just don’t know what to say.

Rather depressingly this echoes the cases of Marte Deborah Dalelv from Norway who reported a rape to police in Dubai and received a 16 month sentence back in 2013, and that of an unnamed 29 year old Austrian woman in February 2014.

While Australian Alicia Gali went very public with the Huffington Post who took a role with one of the worlds largest hotel chains in Dubai in 2008. Ms Gali was allegedly raped by 3 colleagues and after ending up in hospital, was arrested for sex outside of marriage and jailed for eight months.

These, remember, are just the cases that have hit the headlines in the west as it affects our citizens and they have made the mistake of reporting their alleged attacks to the local police
Please remember the rights or wrongs of how you can and should dress as a woman are irrelevant. The fact that in many western countries it’s not just acceptable but a normal everyday occurrence for either sex to dress as they like don’t assume that applies across the globe.

Additionally just because you are travelling in the UK, Europe or USA and equal rights are strong and upheld that everyone in those societies feels that is right. Someone somewhere thinks that because you have a short skirt on or your head uncovered or some other signal that maybe only they identify with then you are sexually available.

Is that right, no it isn’t but if you ignore this you are putting yourself at possible risk.

By all means when in the west campaign to change people’s opinions, campaign for equal rights but don’t ignore the fact that some may have the opposite view to you. Right or wrong don’t matter as long as someone has a belief and they are willing to act on it.

The same applies for gay rights, what is acceptable to most people in the UK will land you in jail in some countries. If you ignore the fact that even in the UK there are individuals and groups that remain hostile to people living their lives as they wish you could be significantly increasing your risk of assault. I’m not saying don’t live your life as you wish what I am saying is be alert to the people and environment around you.

Please remember that if the absolute worst case happens and you are the victim of a sexual assault and you aren’t in your home country contact your embassy or consulate immediately for assistance and support.

Unfortunately as we see in the cases above in some countries you won’t be seen as a victim if you report a sexual assault to the police, you could find you are ignored or find yourself being arrested for having sex outside of marriage.

Don’t assume your own cultural measure of your rights and laws applies around the globe it doesn’t.

Contact representatives from your own country immediately not the local police and let them help you. Back home you and your family pay taxes now is the time to collect, don’t struggle and suffer on your own seek help but from your countries representatives. Contact representatives from your own country immediately not the local police and let them help you.

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