Court sentences husband to life in jail for marital rape
While some communities still look at marital spats as strictly private matter, the law says otherwise and punishes abusive spouses.
So stressed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who on Friday hailed recent court victories that landed abusive husbands in jail.
“The State recognizes that women and children are in a disadvantaged position in an abusive relationship. Hence, the law was enacted to protect them,” De Lima said in a statement on Friday, referring to Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act.
In separate court rulings earlier this year, two men were found guilty of inflicting harm on their spouses. One was convicted of marital rape, while another was arrested for mauling his estranged wife.
In the first case, the husband was found guilty of raping his wife (names withheld because of the nature of the case) in their home in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat province, on May 3, 2002.
Sentenced to reclusion perpetua (imprisonment from 20 to 40 years), he was also ordered to pay his wife P150,000 in damages.
The court found credible the wife’s testimony that her husband had forced himself on her even when she was not feeling well at the time. She said she fell unconscious when he beat her up for refusing to submit to his demand, and woke up to find him “on top of her,” having consummated the act.
Citing an April 2014 Supreme Court ruling on marital rape, Judge Renato Gleyo of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat’s Branch 19 cited the importance of consent in sexual intimacy between husband and wife.
“…[I]t is true that the Family Code obligates the spouses to love one another, but this rule sanctions affection and sexual intimacy as expressions of love that are both spontaneous and mutual, and not the kind which is unilaterally exacted by force or coercion,” read the ruling handed down on Feb 12 this year.
Gleyo further quoted the high court: “When [sexual intimacy] is egoistically used to despoil marital union in order to advance a felonious urge for coitus by force, violence or intimidation, the court will step in to protect its lofty purpose, vindicate justice and protect our laws and State policies.”
Along the same line, De Lima said those who overstep the bounds of the law and force sexual intimacy upon a partner will be held answerable in court.
“Sexual intimacy, aside from being a mechanism for procreation, is a gift that serves to bring color and life to a marital relationship. When the same is consummated without the wife’s consent through the use of coercion, the law provides protection to the victim,” De Lima said.
In the second case, meanwhile, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Surigao City found Jerry Escabal guilty of beating his wife Liberata, a former city councilor and defeated mayoralty candidate in 2010, on April 22, 2011, just outside her fish warehouse.
Married in December 1989, the couple had been estranged for nearly a year because of quarrels over their fish business.
According to Liberata, she found the entrance to her warehouse nailed shut with wooden planks and blocked with tires when she arrived at the city’s Fish Landing Site around 7 a.m. that morning.
Her ex-husband, whose warehouse was beside hers, “suddenly appeared” and dared her to pry open her warehouse door. He then “blocked her way” and tried to punch her in the face, but hit only her arm when she evaded his blow.
In his June 22 ruling, Surigao RTC Branch 29 Judge Victor Canoy cited jurisprudence and said elements of the crime of violence against women were present in the case.
“The testimony of the accused was inconsistent with what his wife narrated in her own testimony… The bodega of the accused had no problem at all. It was Liberata’s bodega that was blocked by him and she wanted the same opened. Hence, the subsequent scuffle (resulting) in bodily injuries on her,” the judge said.
Canoy sentenced Escabal to three months in jail and ordered him to pay P100,000 to his estranged wife. The judge also ordered Escabal to “undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment.”
According to the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey on the safety of women, “one in seven ever-married women experienced physical violence by their husbands, while 8 percent experienced sexual violence by their husbands.”
The survey aimed to “capture the extent and types of violence against women” experienced by Filipino women between 15 and 49 years old.
Meanwhile, data posted on the website of the Philippine Commission on Women showed that at least 23 percent of women who were married experienced emotional and other forms of nonpersonal violence.
The prevalence of such incidents was highest in the Caraga Region (Region 13), Central Visayas and Soccsksargen (Region 12), and “most likely higher among separated, widowed and divorced women,” and “currently married women who have married more than once.”
The 2008 data also showed that “one in three women who experienced physical or sexual violence reported physical injuries such as cuts, bruises or aches,” while more than 10 percent suffered “eye injuries, sprains, dislocations, or burns.”
As to the psychological toll of such violence, three out of five women who have suffered physical or sexual violence reported experiencing depression, anxiety and anger, while about 10 percent had attempted suicide.
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