A young couple has been detained in the United Arab Emirates for the crime of premarital sex. “Emlyn Culverwell‚ 29, and Iryna Nohai, 27, were reportedly arrested after a doctor discovered Ms Nohai, who had stomach cramps, was pregnant,” reports the BBC. Culverwell is a South African national. His fiancé, Nohai, hails from Ukraine.
UAE authorities arrested the couple for sex outside of marriage, an illegal activity that is punishable with detention. Culverwell and his fiancé have been detained since January, but reports about their arrest have only recently surfaced.
The couple has not yet been charged with any particular crime as Islamic investigators are still “carrying out tests” to determine how long Nohai has been sexually active.
If found guilty, the couple faces a protracted jail sentence for violating sexual purity laws.
Distraught and devastated, Culverwell’s mother has begged South African officials to intervene. “The only thing they did wrong was fall in love,” she said.
However, South Africa’s foreign minister has claimed that Johannesburg cannot violate the UAE’s sovereignty and undermine the Islamic country’s regressive domestic laws. South Africa’s advice to the couple? Find some legal assistance in the UAE.
“The South African Government is aware of the case, but unfortunately cannot provide legal assistance. As [the] department all we can do is monitor the situation and try to ensure that they are fairly treated,” stated Nelson Kgwete, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations.