MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court handed down a guilty verdict against a man who raped his wife twice in a historic ruling that cautions husbands: You don’t have property rights over your wives’ bodies.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, the high court affirmed the lower court’s penalty of reclusion perpetua in the rape case that first occurred close to 23 years after the couple’s marriage.
The man is not eligible for parole.
The two got married on Oct. 18, 1975 and have four children. They opened a variety store that over the years grew into several businesses.
On the night of Oct. 16, 1998, the wife was not feeling well and opted to sleep on a cot outside their bedroom. The husband demanded that she transfer to their bed. When she declined, he lifted the cot and threw it against the wall causing the wife to fall.
She then obliged to move to the bed where her husband raped her amid her plea. With a concrete wall on one side and a mere wooden partition on another, her pleading could be heard by their two daughters.
The girls tried to interfere with the elder child kicking the door open. Their father told them to go away.
The next evening, the woman chose to sleep with their children but the husband insisted that she go to their bedroom. When the wife declined, the husband tried to carry her. As she struggled, the husband tore her shorts and tried to rape her in front of their children.
Their elder child told the father to stop but the man said that he could do anything he wanted, saying he was the head of the family and ordered the children to leave the room.
In December 1999, the wife accused her husband in court of two counts of rape.
The husband denied the accusation, saying he was in another place tending to their damaged delivery truck on Oct. 16 and 17.
He also said that his wife made the accusation because she was angry after he took control of their businesses. The husband also accused his wife of squandering P3 million from their bank savings and accused his wife of having an illicit affair.
But both the lower court and the Court of Appeals were not convinced. The appeals court said that the fact the complainant and the accused were spouses “only reinforces the truthfulness of [the wife’s] accusations because no wife in her right mind would accuse her husband of having raped her if it were not true.”
The Supreme Court said the presumption of innocence of the husband was “sufficiently overcome by 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.”
It said that the “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 tom panties and short pants.”
The high court reminded that “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,” it said.
The high court affirmed the penalty of P50,000 in moral damages, P50,000 civil indemnity and P30,000 exemplary damages.
The law on Anti-Violence against Women and their Children, which was passed in 2004, “regards rape within marriage as a form of sexual violence that may be committed by a man against his wife within or outside the family abode.”
The high court also stressed 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.”
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and Justices Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Martin S. Villarama Jr. concurred in the decision.