High court rules for first time: Husbands can’t rape wives
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has reminded husbands that “marriage is not a license” for them to rape their wives.
In a ruling tackling for the first time a marital rape case, the high court first division affirmed a Court of Appeals decision that in turn upheld a Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court’s conviction of a man for raping his wife in 2002.
The division affirmed the man’s conviction on two counts of rape.
“Husbands do not have property rights over their wives’ bodies. Sexual intercourse, albeit within the realm of marriage, if not consensual is rape,” said the ruling penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes.
He said this was in keeping with the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
“Interestingly, no documented case on marital rape has ever reached this Court until now,” the ruling said.
Form of sexual violence
The decision stemmed from a 1999 case filed by a woman who accused her husband, to whom she had been married for 24 years, of raping her on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17, 1998.
In its 41-page ruling, the division said the accused’s contention that his case was not an ordinary rape case and that the standards of determining the presence of consent or lack of should be adjusted “failed to muster legal and rational merit.”
It said that right now rape as a form of sexual violence exists within marriage.
“A man who penetrates his wife without her consent or against her will commits sexual violence upon her,” the ruling said.
The high court also said the argument of the accused “arbitrarily discriminates against married rape victims over unmarried rape victims because it withholds from married women raped by their husbands the penal redress equally granted by law to all rape victims.”
“A marriage license should not be viewed as a license for a husband to forcibly rape his wife with impunity,” the ruling said.
It said it found the woman and her testimony against her husband to be credible and spontaneous.
2 daughters as witnesses
The decision also said the woman’s consent was “wrestled from her through force and intimidation” by the acts of her husband.
Likewise, it said the case against the man was reinforced by the testimonies of their two daughters who witnessed the rape.
And because of this, the high court said it was “morally certain” that the accused raped his wife.
In its ruling, the high court division affirmed the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count of rape against the accused.
It said the accused would not be eligible for parole pursuant to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346.
The provision states that “persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua … shall not be eligible for parole” under the indeterminate sentence law, as amended.
The high court made some modifications on the damage awards granted to the woman, ordering the accused to pay her P130,000 in moral and exemplary damages as well in civil indemnity.
“A husband does not own his wife’s body by reason of marriage. 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 decision said.
It said that husbands cannot force or coerce their wives who refused to have sex with them but he can go to family courts for redress if ever.
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