Husbands don’t have property rights over their wives' bodies. The Supreme Court, in a historic ruling penned by Associate Just...

Husbands don’t have property rights over their wives' bodies.

The Supreme Court, in a historic ruling penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, handed down a guilty verdict against a man who raped his wife twice. It affirmed the lower court’s penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count without eligibility for parole.

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.

The spouses got married on Oct. 18, 1975 and have four children. They established variety store that grew into several businesses. The wife alleged that his husband started to be "brutal in bed" in 1997 as he resulted to "sexual ambush" by evading lovemaking before intercourse.

In the evening 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 as she was suffering from headache and abdominal pain. With a concrete wall on one side and a mere wooden partition on another, her pleading was audible to their two daughters.

Their daughters 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.

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 the said dates.

But both the lower court and the Court of Appeals were not convinced. The appellate 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.” And 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 torn panties and short pants.”

Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that
"Rape  is  a  crime  that  evokes  global  condemnation  because  it  is  an abhorrence to a woman’s value and dignity as a human being.  It respects no time, place, age, physical condition or social status.  It can happen anywhere and it can happen to anyone.  Even, as shown in the present case, to a wife, inside her time-honored fortress, the family home, committed against her by her husband who vowed to be her refuge from cruelty.    The herein pronouncement is an affirmation to wives that our rape laws provide the atonement they seek from their sexually coercive husbands. 

Husbands are once again reminded that marriage is not a license to forcibly rape their wives.  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.  A husband aggrieved by his wife’s unremitting refusal to engage in sexual intercourse cannot resort to Felonious force or coercion to make her yield.  He can seek succor before the Family Courts that can determine whether her refusal constitutes psychological incapacity justifying an annulment of the marriage.  (emphasis ours)

Sexual  intimacy  is  an  integral  part  of  marriage  because  it  is the spiritual  and  biological  communion  that  achieves  the  marital  purpose  of procreation.    It entails mutual love and self-giving and as such it contemplates only mutual sexual cooperation and never sexual coercion or imposition. "

Furthermore, the law on Anti-Violence against Women and their Children “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 justices also warned “menacing personalities” not to use their recent ruling as a tool to harass “innocent husbands.”

Finally, the high court in its final note, quoted
"Among the duties assumed by the husband are his duties to love, cherish and protect his wife, to give her a home, to provide her with the comforts and the necessities of life within his means, to treat her kindly and not cruelly or inhumanely. He is bound to honor her xxx; it is his duty not only to maintain and support her, but also to protect her from oppression and wrong"


The author takes no responsibility for the validity, correctness and result of this work. The information provided is not a legal advice and it should not be used  as a substitute for a competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer. See the disclaimer

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  1. The court has spoken and so be it. But If I were to give my opinion, this kind of grave sexual abuse between married couples shouldn’t be placed in the same category, chapter and definition as the provisions for Rape committed by criminals who sexually assaults someone else’s wife or daughter. The degree of malice or criminal intent should not be the same between a husband who sexually abuse his wife (which is surely punishable) as compared to a criminal who rapes a woman who has no marital ties with him.