09/03/2017 13:25 GMT | Updated 09/03/2017 13:28 GMT

Engaged Couple Held In UAE For ‘Sex Before Marriage’ After Doctor Discovers Pregnancy

They were arrested on 27 January.

A South African man and his Ukrainian fiancée are reportedly being held in the United Arab Emirates for unlawful sex after a doctor discovered the woman was pregnant.

Newly engaged Emlyn Culverwell, 29 and Iryna Nohai, 27, were living in Abu Dhabi when Nohai was taken to hospital suffering from stomach cramps on 27 January.

The doctor who examined her determined she was pregnant and informed the authorities, at which point the couple were arrested, News 24 reports.

The UAE has strict laws against extra-marital sex. Under Sharia law, sex before marriage is forbidden, and even couples holding hands in public can be jailed.

Culverwell’s mother Linda said the Ukrainian embassy has become involved and was trying to obtain permission for them to be married or deported.

She said: “The only thing they did which was wrong, was to fall in love. It makes no sense.”  

The couple, who have been held since January, have not yet been charged as the authorities are reportedly subjecting Nohai to tests to determine how long she has been sexually active.

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says the South African government has advised the couple to get legal assistance.

In 2008 an Australian woman was jailed for eight months after she was drugged and raped at a five star hotel in the UAE.

In 2013 a Norwegian woman was given a 16 month prison sentence after she reported an alleged rape, though she was later pardoned.