A British ex-pat living in Dubai could face up to 15 years in jail after a woman accused him of pinching her bum during a drunken altercation in a Dubai bar.
Steven Sherriff, 43, denies the allegations brought by a 23-year-old woman, who claims someone squeezed her left buttock and sexually assaulted her by placing a hand between her legs, NDTV reported. When the woman told her boyfriend about the assault he punched Sherriff, knocking him out.
Sherriff says he was drinking at the bar when he was punched and maintains he was mistaken for the groper. Both men were arrested. Police charged Sherriff with being drunk, itself a punishable offence in the emirate, and with sexual assault. The woman's boyfriend has also been charged with being drunk.
The Daily Mail reported Sherriff denied the sexual assault, saying although he was drunk at the time "I'd never do a thing like that no matter how drunk I was." He added "My lawyer says I will get three to 15 years if convicted. But I never touched her."
The harsh prison sentence that Sherriff could face if convicted highlights the strange anomalies of the law in Dubai where an actual rape victim can be sentenced to prison for engaging in illicit sex.
According to the Guardian a survey published in 2010 by YouGov Siraj showed that half of Emirati women questioned would not report rape or sexual assault in the UAE, where the very act of reporting such a crime to police could result in the victim facing charges.