A Norwegian sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai for having sex outside marriage after she reported an alleged rape has said she decided to speak out in hopes of drawing attention to the risks of outsiders misunderstanding the Islamic-influenced legal codes in this cosmopolitan city.

The case has drawn outrage from rights groups and others in the West since the 24-year-old interior designer was sentenced on Wednesday.

“I have to spread the word. ... After my sentence we thought, ‘How can it get worse?’” she told AP in an interview at a Norwegian aid compound in Dubai where she is preparing her appeal scheduled for early September. The Norwegian, who worked for an interior design firm in Qatar since 2011, claims she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker in March while she was attending a business meeting in Dubai.

She called the police and was given a medical examination seeking evidence of the alleged rape and underwent a blood test for alcohol.

She was detained for four days after being accused of having sex outside marriage, which is outlawed in the UAE though the law is not actively enforced for tourists as well as hundreds of thousands of Westerners and others on resident visas.

She managed to reach her stepfather in Norway.Norwegian diplomats later secured her release and she has been allowed to remain at the Norwegian Seamen’s Center in central Dubai.

Dubai authorities did not respond to calls for comment, but the case has brought strong criticism from Norwegian officials and activists.

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