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Qatar World Cup 2022: Mexican woman Paola Schietekat Sedas sentenced to 100 lashings

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A woman sentenced to 100 lashings has been forced to flee the country after a sexual assault complaint was flipped against her by police.

A woman has been forced to flee Qatar after being sentenced to 100 lashings.

Mexican woman Paola Schietekat Sedas’ story is at the centre of a major international incident.

The senior economics adviser’s complaints have led to public shaming of the country just months out from the football World Cup, which the country is hosting for the first time under controversial circumstances.

The Qatar World Cup has been mired in allegations of human rights violations, bribery and misconduct.

The country has faced huge controversy over its human rights record, particularly its attitude towards women and gay people.

Homosexuality is illegal but application of the law — identical in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi — has become progressively more liberal.

Having an extramarital relationship is a crime in Qatar, which can be punished with up to ten years in prison and 100 lashes.

The country is permitting fans to wave rainbow flags at World Cup events this year when the tournament begins on November 21.

The outrage at the country being granted the rights to host the biggest sporting event on the planet has been further fuelled by Schietekat Sedas’ tell-all article this month, revealing the brutal details of why she fled the country.

She had been working in the country with the Organising Committee for the Qatar World Cup — and called her situation a “dream job”

However that all changed in June when she says she was sexually assaulted by a work colleague she considered to be a friend.

Her bombshell article alleges in graphic detail how her life turned into a nightmare after the colleague snuck into her room while she was sleeping.

“After a brief struggle, as his strength exceeded mine, I ended up on the floor,” she wrote, as published by El Pais.

“Hours later, I had bruises all over my left arm, shoulder and back. I kept a cool head. I told my mum, a colleague from work and I documented everything with photos, so that my memory, in an attempt to protect itself, would not minimise the events or completely erase part of them.”

She says she consulted with Mexican consulate officials before reporting her complaint to police. She says she had a medical certificate supporting her claims of abuse as well as photos detailing her injuries.

She says she was ordered to return to the police station hours later.

Police flipped the investigation on its head after interviewing the man she alleges attacked her — turning her into the accused. The alleged attacker responded to the accusation by claiming they were in a romantic relationship together.

“It was three hours of interrogation in Arabic and, at a certain point, they demanded a virginity test,” she says.

“For some reason I had become the accused. When I asked why they demanded that I give them my cell phone, they assured me that there were no charges against me, that they just wanted to verify that there was no romantic relationship between us.

“From one moment to another, my complaint no longer mattered. The police referred the case to the public prosecutor’s office, the only place where I had a translator. Everything centred around the extramarital affair.”

She says the trauma of the episode has left her still having moments where she regrets ever reporting the alleged crime.

She fled the country with the support of Mexican consulate officials and the Qatar World Cup Organising Committee.

Once she arrived safely back in Mexico she learned that her accuser had been cleared and that her case was soon to be heard at a criminal court.

She claims that her own lawyer advised her that the solution to her problem was to marry her attacker.

Her case ended when the court found her guilty of extramarital relations, sentencing her to 100 lashings and seven-years imprisonment.

Her article this month has exposed the system that betrayed her.

It is another blow to Qatar’s public relations campaign ahead of the World Cup, where the country has gone to extreme lengths to promote itself, including signing football legend David Beckham to be the face of the Qatar World Cup in a deal worth $277 million over the next 10 years.

Schietekat Sedas has slammed the international community’s indifference to Qatar hosting the event.

Qatar has also been heavily criticised over its treatment of the army of migrant workers — many from the Indian subcontinent who are labouring to build $10 billion-worth of World Cup infrastructure.

Trade union bodies and human rights organisations have calculated 1200 workers have died to date as the stadiums emerge in the blistering desert heat, a figure the Qataris dispute.



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