Archive for May, 2017


SUPREME COURT RAPE MYTHS

Supreme Court rape myths violate women’s rights

By: Rebecka Koziomtzis and Bryan Dennis Gabito Tiojanco@inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:16 AM May 19, 2017

The Supreme Court should be ashamed of its recent rape decisions. Like sidewalk fortune-tellers who rely on playing cards to determine the future, the Court relies on debunked rape myths and false stereotypes to determine guilt. It has acquitted proven rapists as a result. This is not only tragic for rape victims, it also violates the Philippines’ human rights obligations under international law.

In a case decided in February, the victim testified that she fell asleep from dizziness while drinking alcohol with the accused and another friend. She was roused from sleep when the other friend started having sex with her. She was afraid that a knife atop a nearby table “would be used to kill her if she resisted,” so she cried. She was still dizzy, frightened, and shivering when the friend left and the accused approached her to ask if he could also have sex with her. She did not answer as she was still shivering, but the accused nevertheless raped her.

Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found the victim’s testimony “credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things,” and so held the accused guilty. But the Supreme Court acquitted the accused. It held that the victim gave the accused “the impression thru her unexplainable silence of her tacit consent” because “she did not, and chose not to utter a word or make any sign of rejection.”

The Court repeated this reasoning last month, when it acquitted an accused rapist because there was no evidence that the victim “resisted in that whole time,” and held that “[w]hat she did not do was eloquent proof of her consent.” This reasoning follows the common misconception that victims instinctively scream and physically resist their rapists. That is simply untrue. Victims rarely react to rape this way. In fact, psychological studies consistently show that the brain’s usual response to a violent or threatening situation is to paralyze the body—a state called “frozen fright.” Physical resistance is consequently often beyond the conscious control of rape victims. The Court’s reasoning thus conditions justice on a requirement that defies human nature. To expect victims to scream and physically resist their rapists is to expect them to override the brain’s inherent survival mechanism. To find consent in the victim’s nonresistance is therefore outrageous.

An international human rights body has in fact castigated the Philippines for adhering to this rape myth. Ten years ago, a Filipino woman went to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to claim that the Philippines violated her right to nondiscrimination when her rapist was acquitted based on several rape myths, including the myth that rape victims naturally resist their rapists. The Committee agreed with her, stating in 2010 that “to expect [the victim] to have resisted in the situation at stake reinforces in a particular manner the myth that women must physically resist the sexual assault. In this regard, the Committee stresses that there should be no assumption in law or in practice that a woman gives her consent because she has not physically resisted the unwanted sexual conduct.” The Committee concluded that the Philippines failed to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and recommended that the Philippines compensate the woman and “[e]nsure that all legal procedures in cases involving crimes of rape and other sexual offences are impartial and fair, and not affected by prejudices or stereotypical gender notions.”

Seven years after these recommendations, prejudices and false gender stereotypes still grip our courts. And the Supreme Court still follows the same debunked myth that rape victims instinctively resist rapists. Meanwhile, police records show that one woman or child is raped in the Philippines every hour. To help deliver justice to these victims, the Court must recognize the reality of rape and stop anchoring its decisions on rape myths.

Rebecka Koziomtzis is a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. Her dissertation is on rape and international law. Bryan Dennis Gabito Tiojanco is a JSD candidate at Yale Law School. He graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Law.

CASE 2017-0009: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. CARLITO CLARO Y MAHINAY (G.R. NO. 199894, 05 APRIL 2017, BERSAMIN, J.) (ACQUITAL IN RAPE CASE; MEANING OF PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT; MEANING OF REASONABLE DOUBT? HISTORY OF CONCEPT THAT GUILT MUST BE PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT; DUTY OF THE PROSECUTION) (BRIEF TITLE: PEOPLE VS CLARO)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on March 24, 2011 affirming the conviction for rape of CARLITO CLARO y MAHIN A Y under the judgment rendered by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 21, in Manila; ACQUITS CARLITO CLARO y MARINA Y for failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; ORDERS his immediate release from the National Penitentiary unless there are other lawful causes warranting his continuing confinement thereat; and DIRECTS the Director of the Bureau of Corrections to implement the release of CARLITO CLARO y MAHIN A Y in accordance with this decision, and to report on his compliance within l 0 days from receipt.

 

No pronouncement on costs of suit.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

THE MEDICO-LEGAL EXAMINATION SHOWS THAT THERE WERE ABRASIONS IN THE VICTIM’S LEFT BREAST AND CONTUSIONS ON HER RIGHT HAND. IS THIS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT RAPE WAS COMMITTED?

 

NO. THE MERE PRESENCE OF ABRASIONS AND CONTUSIONS ON HER DID NOT PRECLUDE THE GIVING OF HER CONSENT TO THE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, FOR ABRASIONS AND CONTUSIONS COULD ALSO BE SUFFERED DURING VOLUNTARY SUBMISSION OF THE PARTNERS TO EACH OTHER’S LUST.

 

 “That the medico-legal examination of March 14, 2006 turned up with the findings of abrasions on AAA’s left breast and contusions on her right hand did not necessarily mean that the accused had applied force in the context of forcing her to have sex with him. The conclusion of the CA was, therefore, too sweeping, for it inexplicably ignored the probability of consensuality between the parties. Such findings did not justify the full rejection of the demonstrable consensuality of their sexual intercourse. Moreover, the mere presence of abrasions and contusions on her did not preclude the giving of her consent to the sexual intercourse, for abrasions and contusions could also be suffered during voluntary submission of the partners to each other’s lust. Such possibility calls for us to open our minds to the conclusion that the sexual intercourse resulted from consensuality between them.”

 

WHAT IS MEANT BY PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?

 

IT DOES NOT MEAN SUCH A DEGREE OF PROOF AS, EXCLUDING POSSIBILITY OF ERROR, PRODUCES ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY. ONLY MORAL CERTAINTY IS REQUIRED, OR THAT DEGREE OF PROOF WHICH PRODUCES CONVICTION IN AN UNPREJUDICED MIND.

 

WHAT IS REASONABLE DOUBT?

 

IT IS IS NOT MERE POSSIBLE DOUBT; BECAUSE EVERYTHING RELATING TO HUMAN AFFAIRS, AND DEPENDING ON MORAL EVIDENCE, IS OPEN TO SOME POSSIBLE OR IMAGINARY DOUBT. IT IS THAT STATE OF THE CASE WHICH, AFTER THE ENTIRE COMPARISON AND CONSIDERATION OF ALL THE EVIDENCE, LEAVES THE MINDS OF JURORS IN SUCH A CONDITION THAT THEY CANNOT SAY THEY FEEL AN ABIDING CONVICTION, TO A MORAL CERTAINTY, OF THE TRUTH OF THE CHARGE.

 

WHY IS IT THAT ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY IS NOT REQUIRED TO ESTABLISH PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?

 

BECAUSE IT WOULD EXCLUDE CIRCUMSTANCIAL EVIDENCE.

 

“The burden of proof is upon the prosecutor. All the presumptions of law independent of evidence are in favor of innocence; and every person is presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. If upon such proof there is reasonable doubt remaining, the accused is entitled to the benefit of it by an acquittal. For it is not sufficient to establish a probability, though a strong one arising from the doctrine of chances, that the fact charged is more likely to be true than the contrary; but the evidence must establish the truth of the fact to a reasonable and moral certainty; a certainty that convinces and directs the understanding and satisfies the reason and judgment of those who are bound to act conscientiously upon it. This we take to be proof beyond reasonable doubt; because if the law, which mostly depends upon considerations of a moral nature, should go further than this, and require absolute certainty, it would exclude circumstantial evidence altogether.”

 

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT  THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?

 

IT HAS A LONG HISTORY THAT EVEN PRE-DATES OUR CONSTITUTIONS. IT WAS  RECURRENTLY EXPRESSED FROM ANCIENT TIMES, (THOUGH) ITS CRYSTALLIZATION INTO THE FORMULA ‘BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT’ SEEMS TO HAVE OCCURRED AS LATE AS 1798.

 

‘The requirement of establishing the guilt of the accused in every criminal proceeding beyond reasonable doubt has a long history that even pre-dates our Constitutions. As summed up by jurisprudence of American origin:

 

The requirement that guilt of a criminal charge be established by proof beyond a reasonable doubt dates at least from our early years as a Nation. The ‘demand for a higher degree of persuasion in criminal cases was recurrently expressed from ancient times, (though) its crystallization into the formula ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ seems to have occurred as late as 1798. It is now accepted in common law jurisdictions as the measure of persuasion by which the prosecution must convince the trier of all the essential elements of guilt.”

 

WHY IS IT THAT THE REQUIREMENT OF PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT IS VITAL IN OUR CRIMINAL PROCEDURE?

 

BECAUSE DURING A CRIMINAL PROSECUTION THE ACCUSED MAY LOSE HIS LIBERTY UPON CONVICTION AND HE WOULD BE STIGMATIZED BY THE CONVICTION. IT IS ALSO INDISPENSABLE TO COMMAND THE RESPECT AND CONFIDENCE OF THE COMMUNITY IN APPLICATIONS OF CRIMINAL LAW.


“The requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has this vital role in our criminal procedure for cogent reasons. The accused during a criminal prosecution has at stake interest of immense importance, both because of the possibility that he may lose his liberty upon conviction and because of the certainty that he would be stigmatized by the conviction. Accordingly, a society that values the good name and freedom of every individual should not condemn a man for commission of a crime when there is reasonable doubt about his guilt. . . . . ”

 

Moreover, use of the reasonable-doubt standard is indispensable to command the respect and confidence of the community in applications of the criminal law. It is critical that the moral force of the criminal law not be diluted by a standard of proof that leaves people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is also important in our free society that every individual going about his ordinary affairs have confidence that his government cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a proper factfinder of his guilt with utmost certainty.”

 

WHAT IS THE DUTY OF THE PROSECUTION?

 

TO PROVE EACH AND EVERY ELEMENT OF THE CRIME CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION. HE MUST PROVE THE PARTICIPATION OF THE ACCUSED. THE PROSECUTION MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF ITS OWN EVIDENCE AND NOT ON THE WEAKNESS OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE ACCUSED.

 

“Prosecution’s duty is to prove each and every element of the crime charged in the information to warrant a finding of guilt for that crime or for any other crime necessarily included therein. The Prosecution must further prove the participation of the accused in the commission of the offense. In doing all these, the Prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence, and not anchor its success upon the weakness of the evidence of the accused. The burden of proof placed on the Prosecution arises from the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused that no less than the Constitution has guaranteed. Conversely, as to his innocence, the accused has no burden of proof, that he must then be acquitted and set free should the Prosecution not overcome the presumption of innocence in his favor. In other words, the weakness of the defense put up by the accused is inconsequential in the proceedings for as long as the Prosecution has not discharged its burden of proof in establishing the commission of the crime charged and in identifying the accused as the malefactor responsible for it.”

 

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2017-0009-PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. CARLITO CLARO Y MAHINAY

 

NOTE: TO RESEARCH ON A TOPIC IN YAHOO OR GOOGLE SEARCH  JUST TYPE “jabbulao and the topic”. EXAMPLE: TO RESEARCH ON FORUM SHOPPING JUST  TYPE “jabbulao and forum shopping”.