Irish woman who claims her South African husband trapped her in Dubai can leave after government intervention

Tori Towey, 1960th anniversary. (Tori Towey/Facebook)

  • The Irish government has announced that Emirates flight attendant Tori Towey, who was due to stand trial in Dubai, can now return to the country.
  • Towey said her abusive South African husband trapped her in Dubai and then forced her to wrap a rope around his neck.
  • She was accused of attempted suicide, which is treated as a crime in the United Arab Emirates.

An Irish woman who says her South African husband abused her and kept her prisoner in Dubai is returning home and will apparently not face any further charges.

On Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris announced that the travel ban imposed on Tori Towey had been lifted and her legal team in Dubai said the charges against her had been dropped.

Towey had been under indictment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since June 28, but Harris took over her cases on Tuesday, July 9, after learning of her case and promising to pursue diplomatic efforts.

As Harris said at the time, she “was the victim of a brutal attack” and “woke up not in a hospital but in a police station.”

Ireland believed Towey was the victim of a travel ban to the United Arab Emirates, imposed by her husband as a pre-emptive measure, under a system that gives men effective control over the foreign travel of women deemed to be their dependants.

On Wednesday, a day after the matter was first raised in the Irish Parliament, Harris announced to the Lower House of Assembly that government officials would accompany Towey to the airport.

Violence perpetrator sent home

Her family says Towey met her then-boyfriend as a colleague at Emirates and they quickly married.

He quickly became violent, her mother told legal consultants. He was detained in Dubai and police were called to at least one public place after he went on a rampage.

He was told to go home.

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His constant abuse was documented; Towey filed a police report in which she claimed he tried to break her arm in a bathroom door, told her he would kill her, choked her, and threatened her with a knife. After neighbors intervened, she was taken away by ambulance.

According to Detained in Dubai, when Towey finally tried to travel to Ireland, she arrived at the airport to find a travel ban in effect due to a previous complaint filed by her husband.

Such “preventive” complaints are not uncommon in the UAE, the group said, and allow men to prevent their wives from escaping violence.

Towey returned home.

“The next day, Tori and her husband drank some wine and he became furious and accused her of having an affair,” said the man detained in Dubai.

Fearing a slow death from torture, Towey ran to the bathroom “and wrapped an electrical cord around her neck.” She woke up to police and paramedics taking her to the police station.

She was due to appear in court on July 18 on charges of drinking alcohol and attempting suicide.

Detained in Dubai, CEO Radha Stirling compared the case to previous cases in which the UAE accused rape victims of having extramarital sex.

“Now they accuse victims of domestic violence of attempted suicide and alcohol consumption.”

On Wednesday, Stirling said Dubai police had dropped charges against Towey.

Political support

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald highlighted the matter in the Irish Parliament on Tuesday.

“Tori is a Roscommon woman and she wants to come home,” she told the Assembly, calling on Harris to urgently intervene.

He agreed immediately.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health problems, you can contact:

  • Sadaga 24/7 Mental Health Helpline: 0800 456 789.
  • Mental Health Federation of South Africa: 011 781 1852.
  • Lifeline South Africa: 0861 322 322.