[CORRECTION: The original headline and first paragraph of this story have been edited to correct that Wissam Al Mana, owner of Al Mana Interiors, has not been “accused of firing” employee Marte Deborah Dalelv “for reporting rape” during a business trip to Dubai. We regret the error. As reported in the original story, Al Mana Interiors has stated that the decision to end its relationship with Ms. Dalelv had nothing to do with the rape allegation.]
Al Mana Interiors, a design firm owned by Janet Jackson’s husband, Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, terminated its employment relationship with a young Norwegian woman, Marte Deborah Dalelv, following an incident on a business trip to Dubai that resulted in allegations of rape by Ms. Dalelv but ultimately ended in her being sentenced to jail for making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol.
A spokesman for the company says in a statement that the company has been by her side through the initial investigation.
“Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her. The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status.”
However, Norwegian publication VG purports to have obtained a copy of the letter Dalelv received, which reads:
Dear Ms. Dalelv,
This is to inform you that we are suspending your employment effective immediately, due to unacceptable and improper behavior during your business trip to Dubai.
This decision is based on the incident report of 6th March 2013 issued by the Police Authorities in Dubai.
As you know, the above occurrence of your gross misconduct on the job is in direct violation of the Company’s police.
This report is placed in your personnel file and pending action to be decided by the senior management.
Dalelv, meanwhile, has been sentenced to 16 months in prison in Dubai on the charges of unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol. She tells CNN that a male colleague “dragged” her by her purse into his hotel room after offering to escort her back to her hotel room. She woke up some time later with her clothes off, sleeping on her stomach, and says the colleague was raping her.
Later, when she could escape and call the police, Dalelv says the responding officers, all men, asked her, “Are you sure you called the police because you just didn’t like it?”
She tells CNN she responded, “‘Well of course I didn’t like it.’ That was when I knew, I don’t think they are going to believe me at all.”
Dalelv was given a medical exam, but then says she was jailed for four days with no explanation. A representative from the Norwegian embassy finally came to get her. At the time of her release, she was charged with sex outside marriage and public consumption of alcohol. Both are against the law in the United Arab Emirates.
She says that subsequently, her manager from the Al Mana company told her to say the intercourse was voluntary and then the whole issue would go away. Dalelv took the advice at one of the hearings and was then charged with making a false statement.
“That was my biggest regret,” she tells CNN. “because it wasn’t voluntary. I just thought it would all go away.”
A representative for Al Mana Interiors tells CNN that she was not advised by her manager to say that the sex was consensual but rather by a police officer, who told her in Arabic and it was translated into English by her manager.
Dalelv says that a month after the rape, while she has been forced to stay in Dubai at the Norwegian embassy, she was fired from Al Mana Interiors.
She is now appealing her 16 month sentence for the charges levied against her. The perpetrator, a married Sudanese man, was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage and was sentenced to 13 months, according to the Daily Mail.
[UPDATE: Marte Deborah Dalelv has been pardoned
and all charges have been cleared for both parties involved. Her
employment termination still stands, with All Mana Interiors clarifying
that she was dismissed for “drinking alcohol at a staff conference that
resulted in trouble with the police.”]