Having sex on a beach can get you jail time

World travel is a wonderful thing–or can have dire consequences when cultures clash. Having sex in a public place isn’t exactly celebrated in western culture, but it’s not uncommon–particularly under the cover of night when the stretch of a beach seems private.

In some cultures having “safe sex” is more than using a condom.

In Dubai, if you get caught having sex in public, you will get arrested and face years in jail–six in fact. Such is the possible fate of Michelle Palmer, a British woman who has worked in Dubai for three years. She and her male companion were caught having sex. If all goes well, she might only be in jail for three months–the minimum sentence.

The story is not complicated. Palmer, a manager of ITP Publishing was at a champagne brunch where the bubbly stuff flowed. Eventually, smashed and feeling frisky, she and a man headed to the beach for some adult fun and letting off steam.

Unfortunately, the police came along. Having sex in public in Dubai is not the only big no-no. So is having sex if you are unmarried. So is being drunk. Three strikes, you’re out. Or in–as in jail.

This article in MailOnline gives the scoop. As I’m reading between the lines, I see a traveler’s tale that is not so uncommon of others I’ve heard. When living in a culture that is different from ones own, it’s difficult to stay vigilant–to not slide into comfort and think that you’re safe when you are being yourself.

These women SHOULD have gotten jail time, no?

Yes, people who live overseas know that if you live in another culture, and the laws are strict, you need to abide by them. In the beginning, that’s not so hard. You’re caught up in a new culture, new experiences and you’re a well-behaved guest. Then, guest status wanes, and you get bored–or complacent– or horny. Mix in alcohol and there’s a recipe for a world of trouble. Sometimes the trouble is so silly, it’s hard to believe.

A friend of mine was at the end of three years of living in Saudi Arabia. He was at a party, had a bit to drink, and decided that the Canadian nurse who needed a ride ought to be able to get in the front seat of his car. They were arrested, tossed into prison, and he had no idea what was to become of him, particularly when his head was shaved and he was transported to a jail away from the city. In Saudi Arabia, an unmarried man and woman should not be out in public together. The woman is also not supposed to be in the front seat of a car, no matter who is driving. They were not dating. He was just giving her a ride.

Luckily for my friend, his company got involved. His boss was friends with a Saudi prince. My friend was sprung after two weeks. The Canadian nurse was released also, but “prostitute” was stamped in her passport. My friend can’t go back to Saudi Arabia.

In Palmer’s case, her company has dumped her since the company’s aim is to maintain a good standing in Dubai. That also is not uncommon. If you have troubles overseas, don’t expect help. People and companies will usually cut their losses to protect themselves.

Palmer, of course, wants this nightmare to be over and has stated that she’s a good person. Of course she is, and I mean this sincerely. The problem is that all beaches are not the same and when you’re traveling, keep that in mind.

If you have an urge to have sex, be very, very careful. Sure you have the condom, but that’s not all that’s needed to have safe sex in all circumstances–particularly if you’re female. Notice that so far only Palmer has had her situation flaunted. Only the Canadian nurse was called a prostitute. My friend just lost his hair and that grew back.

The guy has only been mentioned in Palmer’s story. All that’s known is his name is Vince and he may have made Palmer an honest woman by marrying her.

I hope people get behind Palmer and help her get out of this mess. Since three months is the minimum sentence, I’m hoping she gets lucky.

UPDATE: The man is also being jailed.

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