From The Manila Times:
About three women are reportedly being raped each day last year, according to statistics released by the Philippine National Police on Friday.
The record shows a 5-percent increase in rape cases in 2003, or 1,117 incidents compared to the 1,063 cases reported in 2002.
Lest the public starts getting the impression that crime rates have been increasing during Gloria Arroyo’s term, Senior Supt. Yolanda Tanigue, chief of the PNP Women’s and Children’s Concern Division, is quick to point out that the higher number of rape cases should be viewed from the context the broader definition of rape under Republic Act 8353, or the Antirape Law of 1997.
Statistics are, of course, open to various interpretations depending on the conslusion the interpreter wants to support. Tanigue might be correct. Or, the higher number could be simply that–more rape incidents which can be due to the increasing population. Whichever it is, one thing is clear. The death penalty is not serving its purpose; it is not working as a deterrent to the commission of rape.
R.A. 8353 is a source of pride for the Philippine government. It is supposed to provide harsher penalties for rapists. It provides a broader definition for rape. It is meant to serve as a more effective deterrent. It is also meant to encrourage more victims to come out openly and cause the prosecution of their offenders. Does R.A. 8353 really do all that?
The rape statistics should also be considered relative to the 4,296 cases (from another report in the Manila Times) of battering and physical injuries cases where the victims are women.
Is there a direct relation between the two sets of statistics? Specifically, what is the percentage of the rape cases that actually reach trial and how many are amicably settled? Oh, yes, rape cases can be settled. The law, old and new, provides that marriage between offender and victim extinguishes criminal liability. Just how many of these settled rape cases are subsequently translated into cases of domestic violence?Before R.A. 8353, rape was punishable under The Revised Penal Code as a crime against chastity.
Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. – Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
1. By using force or intimidation;
2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present.
The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua…
For there to be rape, according to Philippine jurisprudence, there has to be actual penetration of the man’s penis into the woman’s vagina, whether complete or incomplete. The general rule was that rape was punished by reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment). The penalty may become death only under certain circumstances:
Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death…
Death penalty was automatically imposed:
When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has become insane, the penalty shall be death.
When rape is attempted or frustrated and a homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion thereof, the penalty shall be likewise death.
When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, a homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death.
Under R.A. 8353 or the Antirape Law of 1997 :
“Article 266-A. Rape: When And How Committed. – Rape is committed:
“1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
“a) Through force, threat, or intimidation;
“b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;
“c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and
“d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.
“2) By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.
Underscored portions are the innovations introduced by R.A. 8353. Paragraph 2 is actually sexual assault; the penalty is lower.
The circumstances when death becomes the imposable penalty under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code was amended by R.A. 8353. When the rape is attended by homicide, whether attempted, frustrated or cosummated, the penalty was lowered (from an automatic death penalty) to reclusion perpetua to death. The circumstances when death automatically becomes the imposable penalty were increased:
“When by reason or on the occasion ofthe rape, homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death.
“The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying circumstances:
“l) When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim;
“2) When the victim is under the custody of the police or military authorities or any law enforcement or penal institution;
“3) When the rape is committed in full view of the spouse, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third civil degree of consanguinity;
“4) When the victim is a religious engaged in legitimate religious vocation or calling and is personally known to be such by the offender before or at the time of the commission of the crime;
“5) When the victim is a child below seven (7) years old;
“6) When the offender knows that he is afflicted with the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or any other sexually transmissible disease and the virus or disease is transmitted to the victim;
“7) When committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or para-military units thereof or the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency or penal institution, when the offender took advantage of his position to facilitate the commission of the crime;
“8) When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has suffered permanent physical mutilation or disability;
“9) When the offender knew of the pregnancy of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime; and
“10) When the offender knew of the mental disability, emotional disorder and/or physical handicap of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime.
The penalties are lower when there is sexual assault under parapgraph 2 of Article 266-A.
Not surprisingly, R.A. 8353 for all its attempts at being progressive and responsive to the call of the times, retained the following provision from the old law.
Article 266-C. Effect of Pardon. – The subsequent valid marriage between the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or the penalty imposed.
In case it is the legal husband who is the offender, the subsequent forgiveness by the wife as the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or the penalty: Provided, That the crime shall not be extinguished or the penalty shall not be abated if the marriage is void ab initio.
I believe that the last two quoted provisions of R.A. 8353 establish a direct connection between the rape statistics and the battering/physical injuries cases.
Consider the religious upbringing of Filipinos–women in particular. Consider the virtue and grace of forgiveness. Consider the social stigma attached to being a rape victim. Consider the stigma and economic ramifications attached to broken marriages. Consider the financial dependence of many women on their husbands.
Then, consider the possibility of escape that the law itself provides. Consent to marry your rapist–forgiveness means no social stigma. Forgive your husband for for raping you and you save your marriage. You do not deprive your children of their father. You are saved from the trouble of feeding yourself and your children.
In rape law, pardon extinguishes both the criminal action and the penalty. However, pardon does not extinguish violence or propensity for violence. How many husbands, forced to marry their wives to escape criminal prosection and prison, subsequently become abusive husbands? No data. How many husbands, pardoned by their wives for marital rape, beat up their wives? No data either.
Violence against women is a culture. The law should address that.