Qatar World Cup 2022: FIFA officials tell police not to treat women as criminals if they report rape

Police in Qatar have been instructed not to treat women as criminals if they report rape or sexual assault.

Officers have also been told that pregnant women should ‘not face any accusations’ in a bizarre memo distributed by officials.

In hard-line Qatar, women are second-class citizens who can be blamed or even jailed if they are attacked.

Last year, a female World Cup official was facing a sentence of 100 lashes and seven years in prison for ‘extramarital sex’ after she reported being assaulted while working in the Gulf state.

And pregnant women seeking medical services can be placed under suspicion if they are not married, under Qatar’s strict morality laws.

Now the Mail has obtained an official guidance document from Fifa’s Security and Safety Operations Committee (SSOC) describing how police should respond to various scenarios during the World Cup.

Qatari Police patrol on horseback outside the Lusail stadium ahead of Argentina vs Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, November 22

Qatari Police patrol on horseback outside the Lusail stadium ahead of Argentina vs Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, November 22

Two England fans wave flags outside a stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on the day that the Three Lions won 6-2 against Iran

Two England fans wave flags outside a stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on the day that the Three Lions won 6-2 against Iran 

It tells officers: ‘Women will not face any accusations if they report rape or sexual/harassment violence.’

And regarding women who are pregnant and require medical care, it says they should be given care ‘regardless of the circumstances and will not face any accusations’.

Research has shown that the risk of sexual violence rises significantly at major sporting events.

In June last year, Paola Schietekat, 28, from Mexico, was working in Qatar for the World Cup organising committee when she complained of being assaulted by a colleague who broke into her apartment.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino ahead of the Argentina vs Saudi Arabia clash on Tuesday

FIFA president Gianni Infantino ahead of the Argentina vs Saudi Arabia clash on Tuesday

But when she reported the incident to the Qatari authorities, they responded by accusing her of having an affair and charged her with ‘extramarital sex’, which is illegal and punishable by up to seven years and 100 lashes.

She was put in front of the man she had accused and questioned for three hours in Arabic. He was acquitted on charges of assault because there were ‘no cameras’ showing it, but she remained accused, and was warned by her lawyers that one of the only ways to avoid a conviction would be to marry her alleged attacker.

Miss Schietekat chose to flee the country instead. In April this year, a Qatari judge eventually decided to drop the case against her.

Officers from the Al Fazaa police stand near the Flag Plaza in Doha, Qatar on November 17

Officers from the Al Fazaa police stand near the Flag Plaza in Doha, Qatar on November 17

Dr Charlotte Proudman, a barrister specialising in violence against women, has been outspoken about Qatar, saying: ‘Shockingly, everyone has been incredibly silent on Qatar’s horrific sexual assault laws. Qatar’s strict Islamic code outlaws all sexual contact between unmarried couples – making it an offence even if the woman has not consented.’

During the World Cup, the Qataris have bolstered their own police force with hired policemen from Turkey and Pakistan to enforce the law.

But the Fifa security document, which describes the ‘police response’ to various behaviours, makes clear officers should be tolerant of offences that would usually lead to arrest.

It says people ‘displaying the rainbow or other sexual identity flags’ and those ‘displaying signs of affection’ should neither be approached, detained nor prosecuted.

They also said they should not clamp down on clothing for men or women, but anyone stripping to reveal ‘intimate body parts may be asked to put the clothing back on’.

Dr Charlotte Proudman, a barrister specialising in violence against women, has been outspoken about Qatar

Dr Charlotte Proudman, a barrister specialising in violence against women, has been outspoken about Qatar

Qatari Police patrol on horseback at a Fifa fanzone on November 19

Qatari Police patrol on horseback at a Fifa fanzone on November 19

Fans will also be permitted to make ‘spontaneous marches in streets and shopping malls’ and can stand on ‘tables/chair/bench and chant a fan song’ in public without fear of prosecution.

Even public drunkenness will be allowed – but anyone severely drunk may be put in a ‘sobering tent’.

However as would be expected, sexual harassment, hooliganism, attacking other fans, distributing or consuming drugs is banned. Drug users taking just small amounts will be deported and dealers will be prosecuted.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee said it was ‘aware’ of the document but it was ‘not developed or approved by the Supreme Committee or any other State of Qatar entity.’

source

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