She traveled to collaborate with the Qatar World Cup, but was abused and accused of infidelity: she could be sentenced to 100 lashes and 7 years in prison

Paola Schietekat’s aggressor assured that the economist was his girlfriend, for which she is now accused of having relations outside of marriage, a crime that is known in Qatar as “Zina” (Photo: Twitter@paola7kat)

From a dream come true to a nightmare. This has been the case with Paola Schietekat, a Mexican economist what could i get a sentence of 7 years in prison and 100 lashes for denouncing a physical assault he experienced in Qatar last yearwhile working on the Committee in charge of organizing the 2022 Soccer World Cup.

Paola Schietekat Sedas is 27 years old. He obtained an academic training in International Relations, Behavioral Sciences, Anthropology and Public Policy at the Universities of Kuwait and Oxford. Finally, she received an offer to work as a behavioral economist at the Organizing Committee of the World Cup in Qatar, a “dream” job, Paola said.

The State of Qatar is one of the six Arab countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). According to Qatari law, some behaviors are severely punished under the religious code (Sharia).

Despite the fact that in 2020 Qatar eliminated certain measures of the kafala system (a form of employment in which the worker cannot change jobs or leave the country without permission from their employer), it still maintains certain practices in which women are prohibited among other things, working in various government positions, receiving sexual and reproductive health services, as well as applying for a government scholarship without the prior permission of a male relative.

For the above, if a woman has relationships outside of marriage may be subject to a sanction and be punished with up to 10 years in prison, because the Qatari authorities qualify it as a crime (known as Zina).

In this context, Paola was accused of having extramarital affairs since her aggressor he claimed it was his girlfriend.

paola schietekar
On June 6, 2021, a man from the Latino community broke into Paola’s apartment and physically assaulted her (Photo: Twitter@paola7kat)

The night of June 6

Paola was in her apartment in Doha, where she worked as a behavioral economist. A man from Colombia – whom she claims to have met before – broke into the building where she was staying on the night of June 6, 2021.

After a brief struggle, Paola ended up on the floor, as she remembers that her attacker’s strength exceeded her own. After a couple of hours, she realized that she had lesions on various parts of her body: bruises on the left arm, shoulder and back.

He immediately told his mother and a colleague at work what had happened. determinedPaola took pictures of her injuries to document the assault, with the intention of filing a complaint and that there would be consequences in this regard.

Dismayed by the episode she had just experienced, Paola decided to spend that night in a hotel, in case her attacker came looking for her again.

The next day, he obtained a medical certificate and presented himself to the police in the company of the Mexican consul in Qatar, Luis Ancona. Although his knowledge of Arabic was limited, he recounted what happened on the night of July 6.

Paola Schietekat
On the night of June 7, Paola received a phone call urgently asking her to report to the police station; Otherwise, they told her, her complaint would be dismissed (Photo: Twitter @ paola7kat)

After listening to Paola, the police authorities asked him if he wanted a restraining order, to do nothing or to go to the last consequences. The consul recommended the latter option (without prior knowledge of Qatari law and without seeking legal advice first, Schietekat recalls). The 27-year-old economist signed the statement (in Arabic) and provided the corresponding details of her aggressor.

However, that same day, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Paola received a phone call in which she was urgently requested to report to the police station; Otherwise, they told him, his complaint was going to be dismissed.

Although she hesitated for a moment, Paola took a taxi and went to the station alone, where the police and her attacker were waiting for her.

From victim to defendant

In a 3-hour interrogation in Arabic, Paola went from being a victim to being accused. police authorities They asked him to check his cell phone, they also demanded a virginity test, since his attacker had assured that Paola was his girlfriend.

From that moment everything changed for Paola. In Qatar, having an extramarital affair (Zina) He is sentenced to up to ten years in prison. and, in some cases, as part of the sanction, a hundred lashes are added.

Paola Schietekat
Thanks to the Supreme Committee and Humans Right Watch, the internationalist was able to leave the country and return to Mexico on June 26, 2021 (Photo: Twitter@paola7kat)

Due to the above, the police referred the case to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, where Paola finally had a translator. Finally, in order not to go to jail, he had to hand over his unlocked phone to the Qatari authorities.

Thanks to Supreme Committee already Humans Right Watchthe internationalist was able to leave the country and return to Mexico on June 26, 2021. As for his case, he was referred to the criminal court. When Paola received the file, she realized that her assailant had been acquitted of the assault charge.since “there were no cameras pointing directly at the door of the apartment, so there was no way of verifying that the attack happened.”

However, the charges against him for having an alleged relationship outside of marriage had not been dropped, for which he was prevented from returning to Qatar. His lawyer and the legal representation of both parties offered him a solution to close the case once and for all: marry her attacker.

Support from the Embassy of Mexico?

Paola points to the same document in which she explained her situation (which she titled “A world that seems to hate women“), that he The Mexican Foreign Service did not apply at any time a protection protocol for victims of violence with a gender perspectivedespite the fact that UN Women and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Mexican government developed in 2018 the “Consular attention protocol for victims of gender-based violence”.

Likewise, the Mexican Embassy in Qatar was aware of the case since June 7, 2021, since Paola’s mother sent an email to notify them of her daughter’s situation.

Paola Schietekat and Marcelo Ebrard
Last Friday, February 18, Paola met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, to negotiate a diplomatic intervention so that Paola can return to Doha (Photo: Twitter Capture/@m_ebrard)

According to a statement issued by the SRE, Paola “was aware” of the possible implications that would entail if her aggressor argued a “coexistence outside of marriage” to mitigate the complaint, which contradicts Schietekat’s version, since the consul did not advise Paola how your complaint could be used against you.

What’s more, said document reads that Paola spoke fluent Arabic, another point that does not coincide with Paola’s statementswho pointed out the “null participation of the Embassy” to act in his defense.

On June 8, 2021, she was offered free legal advice by two lawyers and Paola hired the services of one of them. On December 11, her lawyer notified her client that the Prosecutor’s Office found her “guilty” of Zina’s crime, based on evidence found on the cell phones of the parties involved.

In early January 2022, Paola’s lawyer informed her that the first hearing would take place on January 24. By February 9, 2022, in order to avoid the execution of the sentences, the lawyer confirmed to the Embassy that the defense teams of both co-defendants agreed to present a legalized marriage certificate at the final hearing, which was scheduled for February 14. February.

However, the hearing was postponed to Sunday, March 6, 2022, since neither the co-defendants nor their lawyers appeared before the Court because they were outside Qatar; That day the agreed sentence against Paola will be handed down.

While, Last Friday, February 18, Paola met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrardto negotiate a diplomatic intervention so that Paola can return to Doha.

For his part, the Mexican Foreign Minister reported that the Legal Advisor of the SRE would take charge of Paola’s defense and that her rights as a Mexican citizen be respected.

After the meeting, Paola Schietekat mentioned that it was not only an achievement for the resolution of her case, but also for the strengthening of the SRE. “Pushing when you have to push is fundamental to the functioning of democracy,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Paola does not rule out returning to Qatar.


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