Fifa employee reports assault in Qatar – threatened with whipping
A Fifa woman in Qatar was forced to flee the country after she reported being attacked in her own home. The country’s authorities have instead accused her of having an extramarital affair with the suspected perpetrator – a criminal classification that can lead to seven years in prison and 100 lashes.
Paola Schietekat was born in Mexico but has lived in Qatar for nine years. In 2020, she lived in Doha and started working as a behavioral economist for the Fifa committee in the country, which will host the World Cup this winter.
Schietekat tells the Mexican news site Noticias Telemundo that she was assaulted by a male acquaintance who broke into her apartment in the capital Doha in June 2021.
– I got bruises on the ribs, back, shoulder and the whole left side of the body. I was immobile for about 10 minutes, I could not believe what had happened to me, she tells the news site.
She barricaded herself in a hotel room that night for fear that the man would return to the apartment after the assault. But when she reported the crime the next day, it was instead she who became suspicious. According to Schietekat, the police demanded that she present evidence that she was a virgin, but also had to be confronted by her perpetrator in an interrogation room.
– The person who attacked me lied and said that we had a relationship and even though I had forensic evidence that showed abuse, they believed in him, says Paola Schietekat to Noticias Telemundo.
The Qatari prosecutor claims she had a romantic relationship with the man. Since they were not married, it would be a violation of Qatar’s sharia law and could be punished with imprisonment for seven years and 100 lashes. Government officials in the country said in 2018 that the laws allow it corporal punishment such as stoning and whipping, but that they are not applied in practice.
The investigation against the man was dropped but the suspicions against Paola Schietekat remain, Paola Schietekat writes on the site “Julio Astillero”, where she tells about the course of events.
The solution both my lawyer and my attacker’s agent gave me was relatively simple: marry him. “To end the case that the state of Qatar has opened, I just needed to marry my attacker,” she writes.
After receiving support from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch – which demanded that the prosecution against her be dropped – and the employer, Schietekat fled the country. It has been just over three weeks since she left Qatar.
After returning to Mexico, Paola Schietekat had a meeting with the country’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who promised that she would be offered legal aid.
“Our best lawyer will take the responsibility to defend her and that all her rights as a Mexican citizen are respected,” the minister wrote on February 18.
Agradecí a Paola su visita y la conversación. El Consultor Jurídico de la SRE, nuestro mejor abogado, se hará cargo de defenderla y de que sean respetados todos sus derechos como ciudadana mexicana. Le reconocí su valentía y resolución. pic.twitter.com/PMWGjpjHRV
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) February 18, 2022
According to the Mexican news channel TVazteca, Paola Schietekat’s case has been given a new date for a court hearing on April 3. Originally, it was supposed to have taken place on Sunday, but was postponed as the judge did not allow her defender to participate at a distance, the channel writes.
Since the Qatar World Cup was awarded in Qatar, the International Football Association has been heavily criticized for the host country’s lack of human rights, including systematic discrimination against women and the treatment of foreign guest workers. As recently as the end of February , the Center Party’s party leader Annie Lööf demanded that Sweden boycott the championship.
– We must mark from a political point of view to those who arrange the World Cup and the Olympics. That one can not offer dictatorships and non-democratic states the star shine that a World Cup or the Olympics entails, she said then.