SC on rape acquittal: Stay away from ‘Maria Clara’ mindset
In acquitting two men convicted of rape, the Supreme Court, in a decision made public Tuesday, said the public “should stay away” from the ‘Maria Clara’ stereotype or the demure and reserved type of Filipina.
“Today, we simply cannot be stuck to the Maria Clara stereotype of a demure and reserved Filipino woman. We, should stay away from such mindset and accept the realities of a woman’s dynamic role in society today; she who has over the years transformed into a strong and confidently intelligent and beautiful person, willing to fight for her rights,” the Supreme Court said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Samuel Martires.
The High Court acquitted Juvy Amarela and Junard Racho of rape. Both were convicted by a Davao court and were sentenced to suffer reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years imprisonment. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
The incident happened in 2009. The victim was watching a beauty pageant when she felt the need to go to the toilet. On her way, she said Amarela pulled her under a 2-feet high makeshift stage where she was punched and raped.
The victim said Amarela stopped and fled after three men came. The men took her to a hut but she said she managed to escape and hid in a neighboring house and then was taken to Racho’s house.
Racho’s mother then asked her son to take the victim to her aunt. However, the victim
was instead brought to a shanty where she was punched and again raped.
In acquitting the two, the Supreme Court said the testimony given by the victim in court was different from her affidavit. The High Court also questioned how the victim was able to identify Amarela when she herself admitted that the area where the rape supposedly happened was dark and was surrounded by trees.
“Her claim that she was forcibly brought under a makeshift stage, stripped naked and then raped seems unrealistic and beyond human experience,” the High Court added.
The Supreme Court also noted that medical examination on the victim also failed to indicate any physical injuries or that she was raped by the two accused.
While medico legal findings are not controlling, the High Court cited a study showing the “most common laceration sites” for rape victims.
“In the instant case…considering the locality of these lacerations, we cannot completely rule out the probability that [the victim] voluntarily had sex that night. Moreover, the absence of bruises when she said she was punched reinforces the theory that [the victim] may have had consensual intercourse,” the Supreme Court said.
“We have hinged on the impression that no young Filipina of decent repute would publicly admit that she has been sexually abused, unless that is the truth, for it is her natural instinct to protect her honor (Woman’s Honor Doctrine),” the High Court said.
However, in this day and age, the Supreme Court added that such ‘misconception’ “would not only put the accused at an unfair disadvantage, but creates a travesty of justice.” /muf
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