'Only thing they did wrong, was fall in love' - mom of man arrested in UAE for premarital sex

2017-03-07 11:51
Iryna Nohai and Emlyn Culverwell (Supplied to Netwerk24)

Iryna Nohai and Emlyn Culverwell (Supplied to Netwerk24)

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Dubai - A South African and his fiancée have been arrested in the United Arab Emirates because the woman is pregnant.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation says there is nothing it can do for Emlyn Culverwell, 29, and his 27-year-old fiancée, Iryna Nohai, who is originally from the Ukraine.

They were arrested in Abu Dhabi on January 29 on a charge of having sex before marriage, an offence in the UAE.

Linda Culverwell, a Port Alfred resident, told Netwerk24 that her son and Iryna had got engaged on January 27.

That Sunday, Iryna developed stomach cramps and Emlyn took her to the Medeor medical centre.

A doctor found that she was pregnant and informed the authorities, upon which the couple was arrested.

Linda said Emlyn’s dad Karl had, to date, received no answers from the authorities in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s embassy in South Africa, or South African consulate there.

"Every time we try to get information, it feels as though I’m hitting a brick wall," said Linda.

“We don’t even know if they have legal representation.”

Linda said the Ukrainian embassy had become involved and was trying to obtain permission for the two to get married or for them to be deported.

Emlyn’s employer, Yas Waterworld, told his family that formal charges had not been brought yet, because Iryna was apparently undergoing "further tests" to determine how long she’d been sexually active.

"For heaven’s sake, how can they supposedly determine that?"

'It must feel as if she is being raped by the authorities'

Linda said she was worried that Iryna’s "stomach cramps" could have been signs of a miscarriage, as she was still in the early stages of her pregnancy.

"I can imagine the hell she is going through. It must feel as if she is being raped by the authorities."

She said her son was a fitness fanatic who didn’t even drink or smoke.

"The only thing they did which was wrong, was to fall in love. It makes no sense.

"We are trying to get messages to the two to say we love them and that they shouldn’t be worried... what concerns me most, is that we actually haven’t got a clue how they are. All the Department of International Relations is prepared to say is that we have ‘to be patient’, but there are three lives at stake here."

A spokesperson for the department, Nelson Kgwete, said the couple was being prosecuted in terms of UAE laws and that the South African government could do nothing about it. 

"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."

Foreigners were often prosecuted in terms of the UAE’s morality laws, Kgwete said.

Read more on:    dirco  |  uae

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