Legislative Advocacy for a New Anti-Rape Law in The Philippines
Rape is an inherently violent crime that typically results in physical, social, emotional, and psychological harm. It remains a prevalent social problem in the Philippines, and throughout the world. Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353, otherwise known as the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, expanded the definition of the crime of rape in the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and re-classified it as a crime against persons instead of as a crime against chastity. As a crime against persons, the law no longer considers rape as a private crime. Thus, anyone who knows of the crime may file a case on the victim's behalf, and prosecution may continue even if the victim drops the case. In this regard, the law is considered as progressive in terms of veering away from the chastity framework. However, some of its provisions still need to be amended or repealed for being discriminatory against women and non-compliant with international human rights standards embraced by the Philippines. Article 266-A, 1(a) and 1(c) of the RPC as amended by R.A. No. 8353 require the use of force, threat, intimidation, fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority by the offender before the act can be considered as rape. Absent these circumstances, it will be difficult for the victim to press charges or succeed in prosecuting the same because of the evidentiary rules laid down in the current law. The experiences of other countries shed light on how to go about redefining the crime of rape through the perspective of the victim instead of the attacker. The Sudanese Criminal Act defines rape as sexual intercourse without consent. In Great Britain, the performance of sexual acts other than those consented to by a person is cause for conviction of the crime of rape.
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