11 September 2014

SC: Husbands Can Be Guilty of Raping Wives

Supreme Court
In a historical decision, the Philippine Supreme Court (SC) ruled that marriage is not a license for husbands to forcibly rape their wives. This decision was reached after the high court upheld on 15 May 2014 the conviction of a man accused of raping his wife twice more than 15 years ago.

The high court supported a 9 July 2008 Court of Appeals (CA) ruling to affirm an earlier lower court decision in 1 April 2002 that found a husband guilty of two counts of rape and was sentenced reclusion perpetua for each count. He is also not eligible for parole.

"Evidence of overwhelming force and intimidation to consummate rape is extant from the wife’s narration as believably corroborated by the testimonies of their two children and the physical evidence of wife’s torn panties and short pants," said the SC decision.

The Cagayan de Oro couple got married on 18 October 1975 and have four children. They also own a number of businesses that started from a small store.

The first rape occurred on 16 October 1998, while the second happened the next day, just one day before their 16th year wedding anniversary.

Here are the circumstances surrounding the marital rape as narrated by a Philippine Daily Inquirer article:
On the night of October 16, the wife refused to sleep beside the husband in the couple’s bedroom because she was not feeling well and decided instead to sleep outside. Angered, the man threw her bed into the wall causing her wife to fall.

Without much choice, the woman was forced to sleep beside her husband where she was raped against her will and despite her pleadings which was overheard by the children in the next room. The children tried to interfere, but were told to go away.

On second night, the wife decided to sleep in the children’s room, but was again demanded to return to their bedroom. After she refused, a struggle between the couple ensued as the man tore her shorts and forced himself on her while the children watched.

Again the children tried to stop their father, but the man insisted being the head of the family, he can do anything he wants, and told the children to leave the room, then proceeded to rape her again.
The wife filed the two counts of rape in December 1999.

As a defense, the husband initially said the rape never took place because he was someplace else tending to their business on both dates. He also accused his wife of having an affair and of misusing about PhP 3 million from their account.

Later on however, the husband told the court the sexual intercourse between them "were theoretically consensual, obligatory even, because he and the victim were a legally married and cohabiting couple."

However, the Supreme Court ruled that, "husbands do not have property rights over their wives bodies by reason of marriage."

"Sexual intercourse, albeit within the realm of marriage, if not consensual, is rape," it added. "By marrying, she does not divest herself of the human right to an exclusive autonomy over her own body and thus, she can lawfully opt to give or withhold her consent to marital coitus."

The high court also agreed with the earlier findings by CA and the lower court that the "wife’s clear, straightforward, credible, and truthful declaration that on two separate occasions, he succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her, without her consent and against her will" 'sufficiently overcomes' the presumption of innocence of the husband.

While the husband argued the woman did not show resistance during the intercourse, the SC said 'resistance' is not an element of rape and existing Philippine laws does not require victims the burden of its proof.

Apart from the reclusion perpetua for each count of rape, the SC decision penned by Justice Bienvenido Reyes and concurred by four other magistrates also imposed on the accused penalty of PhP 50,000 in moral damages, PhP 50,000 civil indemnity and PhP 30,000 exemplary damages.