Detained for Sex Before Marriage

Maegan McCart-Sophomore-March 15, 2017


A South African man and his Ukrainian fiancee have been detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for unlawful sex, a relative says. Emlyn Culverwell‚ 29, and Iryna Nohai, 27, were reportedly arrested after a doctor discovered Ms. Nohai, who had stomach cramps, was pregnant. Culverwell and Nohai were arrested at the hospital for not being able to provide marriage certificates. Sex outside of marriage is illegal in UAE. They were first taken to Yas Police Station, and then later brought to Al Wathba Prison. Mr. Culverwell’s mother has pleaded for their release, saying “The only thing they did wrong was fall in love”.

The couple had recently been engaged just two days before their arrest, on January 27th. Mr. Culverwell and Ms. Nohai have reportedly been held since January 29th, but news of their detention has only emerged now. Mr. Culverwell has been working in the UAE for the past five years.
His mother Linda told News24 that their family is “trying to get messages to the two to say we love them and that they shouldn’t be worried.” The couple has not yet been charged as the authorities are still carrying out tests, Mrs. Culverwell added. If found guilty, they could face a long jail sentence.


Legal representation for Culverwell and Nohai could cost up to 118‚000 South African rands ($8‚000) per person. Culverwell’s mother, Linda, said that Nohai was still in the early stages of her pregnancy, and suggested that the cramps could be a sign of a miscarriage. Linda said that since the couple’s arrest, family members and friends have been unable to contact them. She said that the only people who can visit the couple are family members who share the same last name, and relatives are currently calculating the costs of making a trip to Abu Dhabi with lawyers. Since their arrest, a Christian Church in Yas Island, UAE offered to marry the couple for a lofty price, but a judge refused to allow it.



  • BBC
  • Daily Mail
  • Independent

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