Oz woman sues UAE 5-star hotel after she was raped, jailed for sex outside marriage

March 30th, 2011 - 5:22 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 30 (ANI): An Australian woman, who was drugged and raped by co-workers, has sued a five-star UAE hotel after she ended up in jail for eight months for having sex outside marriage.

Alicia Gali, 29, had her drink spiked and was raped by four co-workers at the luxury Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in the United Arab Emirates in June 2008.

She is seeking compensation from her former employer for breaching its workplace duty of care after she reported the assault to authorities, only to be jailed for eight months on an adultery charge.

Gali spent eight months in prison, as having sex outside marriage in the UAE is illegal.

Australian embassy staff advised Gali and her family not to go to the media during her time in custody, when she was locked in a cell with 30 other women.

Gali, who has since been pardoned and was released in March 2009, claims the hotel failed to protect staff against assault and its legal consequences.

She alleges the resort encouraged workers to drink illegally at its bar staff, despite strict laws and the requirement of drinking permits.

According to her lawyer Melissa Payne, the “harrowing” ordeal has since caused Gali severe post traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, flashbacks, depression and claustrophobia.

“I thought I would be safe and protected in an international hotel group. They didn’t give me the correct advice and didn’t help me when I was charged and imprisoned,” the Daily Mail quoted Gali as saying.

“I still feel angry and upset. It’s distressing because I was a victim in all this and I was punished. The UAE is being promoted hugely here as a tourism destination - they sponsor things here.

“They are not complying with human rights, women’s rights and migrant workers’ rights,” she stated.

Payne says the incident could have been avoided, as the hotel should have had segregated quarters for female employees and provide adequate induction training on the local laws and customs.

“When she reported the assault to the human resources manager he did not advise her of the potential consequences of reporting that assault,” Payne said.

“Alicia’s employer has let her down in the most terrible, terrible of ways. A company like this should know better. The resort promotes itself as paradise on Earth… it wasn’t paradise for Alicia.

“Alicia is very concerned there are other women who might find themselves in similar situations. She now feels brave enough to speak out,” Payne added.

Trey Maurice from the resort’s parent company Starwood Hotels, said safety and security of staff is a paramount priority.

He said the management of the resort was aware of the unfortunate circumstances and provided support and assistance to Gali and her family during her imprisonment.

Payne said Gali’s lawsuit against the resort was likely to take place in court in Queensland, Australia, but could possible happen in the UAE. (ANI)

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