Tori Towey, woman detained in Dubai over suicide attempt amid alleged domestic violence, allowed to leave UAE

An Irish woman who had been charged by authorities in the United Arab Emirates with attempting suicide and alcohol consumption has been permitted to leave the country after being detained briefly, a legal advocacy group says.

Tori Towey, 28, from Ireland’s County Roscommon, had been a crew member with Emirates Airlines since April 2023, was briefly detained and had her passport confiscated and destroyed, the “Detained in Dubai” (DiD) legal group said.

DiD said Towey had been the victim of “brutal domestic violence leading to an attempt to take her own life” in Dubai.

“Rather than helping her go home to Ireland with her mother, Dubai authorities charged her with attempted suicide and alcohol consumption,” the group said in a statement.

Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Ireland’s Sinn Féin political party, confirmed Wednesday that Towey “will now travel home” after the travel ban, apparently along with case against Towey, was dropped. McDonald said the Irishwoman would return home with her mother from Dubai, adding: “We await her safe return.”

Tori Towey, an Irish cabin crew member with the Emirates airline, is seen in a file photo provided by the legal advocacy group Detained in Dubai.

Courtesy of Detained in Dubai

The opposition party leader had brought Towey’s plight to the attention of Ireland’s national leader, Taoiseach Simon Harris, during a parliamentary session on Tuesday, stressing that the cabin crew member “is not a criminal, she is a victim of abuse.”

“The Taoiseach must intervene, the UAE Ambassador must be called in and it must be made clear to the authorities of Dubai that no woman should be treated in this way, and an Irish citizen will not be treated in this way,” McDonald said in a social media post on Tuesday.

Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin also confirmed that Towey had been permitted to return to Ireland in a tweet on Wednesday.

According to DiD, Towey was physically and emotionally abused by her South African husband, whom she met while working in the Emirates. DiD said the man, whom it has not identified, was dismissed by UAE authorities after facing questioning over “behavioral issues.”

“He cut her off from her friends and family. If we tried to contact her, she got in trouble,” Towey’s mother Caroline, who few to Dubai to be with her daughter, told DiD.

DiD said that after the most recent alleged attack by her spouse, Towey locked herself in a bathroom at their home and attempted to take her life.

“The next thing she remembers is an ambulance crew and police waking her up. She was taken to Al Barsha police station and kept for several hours before going home again,” the group said.

“Tori’s experience is nothing short of tragic and quite frankly, she is lucky to be alive,” said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and another advocacy group called Due Process International.

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

Media in the UAE, a tightly controlled conservative Islamic nation, did not report on Towey’s case. CBS News has sought comment from the UAE Ministry of Justice and will update this article with any reply, but the country’s authorities rarely comment on specific cases.

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