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Irish woman detained in Dubai after ‘attempted suicide’ when fleeing domestic violence

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Source; Irish examiner

Tori Towey. Picture: Detained in Dubai

An Irish woman has been detained in Dubai after being charged with attempting to take her own life in what has been described as a desperate bid to escape alleged domestic violence.

The case of Tori Towey, 28, who faces criminal charges in Dubai of “attempted suicide” and alcohol consumption, has been raised in the Dáil.

Ms Towey had been hospitalised with extensive injuries after an alleged assault by her husband.

Her plight was raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, who said: “Her passport has been destroyed. There was a travel ban imposed on her and she had gone to the authorities seeking protection many times but to absolutely no avail.

“But following one particularly severe beating in which her husband repeatedly tried to slam doors on her arms and break her limbs, she escaped upstairs, and she attempted to take her own life.

“The system over there, rather than protecting this woman, who is an Irish citizen, chose instead to detain her, to charge her.

“Tori wants to come home. Simple as that. She’s a Roscommon woman, she wants to come home.

“And I’m asking now as a matter of absolute urgency that we have a statement from this house, that you intervene, that the ambassador is called and it made absolutely plain to the authorities of Dubai that no woman should be treated in this way. And an Irish citizen, an Irish woman, will not be treated in this way.”

Ms Towey moved to the emirate last year to work as an airline attendant.

She married a man in March but, according to Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane, she soon began being mentally and physically abused.

Ms Kerrane has spoken to Ms Towey and her mother Caroline, who is now with her in Dubai.

“It’s a living nightmare,” Ms Kerrane said.

“She was put in a cell with 50 women, there was no information, she wasn’t told why she had been arrested, what she was being charged with. Then there’s the language barrier too. It’s just horrendous.

“There was a small bit of alcohol in her system so she was charged with alcohol abuse. And with ‘attempted suicide’.”

Although Ms Towey went to the police, she was told to go home to her husband, Ms Kerrane said.

“He ripped up her passport, so she couldn’t work as an airline attendant, then she had no money, so she couldn’t come home.”

A travel ban was also placed on her passport so she could not escape.

During one allegedly brutal attack in her home, it’s understood she escaped into the bathroom and tried to take her own life in a bid to escape her husband, fearing he would torture her to death.

“The next thing she knew, paramedics were there,” Ms Kerrane said.

“Then she was arrested on June 28 and had no idea what she had been arrested for.”

Ms Towey is now hiding in Dubai with her mother and hoping for help.

They are too scared to talk to the media as they fear it is illegal to do so.

“They can’t speak so we have to speak for them,” Ms Kerrane said.

A court date has been set for July 18.

“And we’re in the last week of the Dáil so there’s that pressure too,” said Ms Kerrane.

Tori Towey’s ‘very anxious’ family hoping charges will be dropped

Ms Towey’s aunt, Anne Flynn said the family is hoping that diplomatic efforts will lead to the charges being dropped and allow Ms Towey to return to Ireland.

“We are just all very, very anxious,” she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We keep hoping that we’ll get word that they’re on a plane. On the way home. I don’t know. Will this court case go ahead? Or if it goes, what will happen? You know, we’re just very hopeful. And it’s really terrible that this has happened to a young woman that was full of life and full of adventure. And she loved travelling. And, you know, she’s a beautiful young woman.

“I’ve been in touch with them every day, several times a day, since all this started. They’re both trying to keep positive. We’re trying to keep positive as well. But it’s on your mind constantly, and I’m sure it’s on their minds because all the family gets in touch with them, you know? And, it’s so far away. But hopefully with Radha Stirling, the Taoiseach and all the ministers this will help. Hopefully, we’ll hear good news.

“We’re hoping that, just something will happen that it won’t go to court. It’s hard to believe that this young woman has been charged with trying to commit suicide.”

Politicians here now plan to work cross-party in a bid to get the Irish woman back home to safety and Taoiseach Simon Harris has said he’s ready to intervene in the case.

“She said today: ‘I just want to come home,’” Ms Kerrane said.

“Hopefully now the Irish authorities can do something to get her home.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.

Consular assistance has been provided to the family for a number of weeks and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin is speaking to his officials in Dubai.

Radha Stirling, chief executive at the human rights organization Detained in Dubai, who has been helping the Toweys, said: “It’s amazing that authorities did not intervene for Tori’s protection, given the state her body was in when she was hospitalized the first time.

“Worse than failing her, authorities in Dubai actually travel-banned her and kept her in the country when she was trying to get away.

“The UAE used to charge rape victims with ‘sex outside marriage’. Now they’re charging domestic violence victims with ‘attempted suicide’ and alcohol consumption. Dubai police need to be educated on victim care.”

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