Rape in the Philippines

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Rape, in Philippine Jurisprudence, is considered a criminal offense. In Philippine society, it is a heinous crime punishable by life imprisonment.

The law[edit]

The Anti-Rape Law of 1997, which amended the previous definition of rape as defined in the Revised Penal Code of 1930, now defines the crime of rape as follows:

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.[1]

The 1997 changes expanded the definition of rape and reclassified that crime as a Crime against persons instead of, as previously, grouping it with Crimes against Chastity.[2]


Statistics on the incidence of rape are usually based on available police records. More often, these are inaccurate and not a true representation of the problem, for cultural and social stigmatisation associated with rape act as significant barriers to women reporting rape. Furthermore, women are more likely not to report rape if there is little support from their families, law enforcement agencies and the health sector. In the Philippines, The Asian Women's Resource Exchange (AWORC), an Internet-based women's information service, reports that 794 rapes occurred in the Philippines in the first four months of 1997. [3] During the first semester of 1999 alone, there were 2,393 children who fell prey to rape, attempted rape, incest, acts of lasciviousness and prostitution. [4] As of 2006, Rape continued to be a problem, with most cases going unreported. During the year, the PNP reported 685 rape cases There were reports of rape and sexual abuse of women in police or protective custody—often women from marginalized groups, such as suspected prostitutes, drug users, and lower income individuals arrested for minor crimes. .[5] The situation continued in 2007, with the number of reported rape cases increasing to 879.[6]

Rape and Sexual Abuse of Women in Custody[edit]

Women in the custody of law enforcement officials in the Philippines are vulnerable to torture, including rape and sexual abuse. Between 1995 and 2000 Amnesty International received reports of more than 30 incidents of rape or other sexual abuse of women or girls in custody. The organization fears that this figure represents only a fraction of the real number of cases. Rape of women detainees by police officers, jail guards or military officials always constitutes torture. It is both a physical violation and injury as well as a humiliating assault on a woman's mental and emotional integrity. Other forms of sexual abuse by law enforcement officials, including the threat of rape, verbal sexual abuse and mocking, designed to degrade and humiliate, may also constitute torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. According to Amnesty International's information, there has been only a small number of convictions of police officers for rape of female detainees.[7]


Prostitution in Olongapo City and Angeles City was highly prominent during the time of the U.S. military bases called Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base, respectively.[8][9] It still exists to this day, though to a lesser degree.[citation needed]

Although the sex trade in the Philippines mostly caters to the indigenous population, NGOs and religious groups regularly sensationalize the problems of prostitution by drawing attention to the foreigner-oriented segment of this business. In Angeles City, the control is split between Filipino, Korean, Australian and American bar operators, though in 1987, Australians had a financial interest in more than 60% of the 500 bars and 7,000 prostitutes in the City[10] In foreign-oriented prostitution bars, men pay an "early work release" to allow their chosen girl to leave with them. Sexual services are implied but are not guaranteed.[11]

Philippines Senator Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr., on July 26, 2006, called for coordination with the Philippine National Police vis-a-vis the public, the whistle blower and anti-prostitution Internet online petitioner initiator, to shed light and solve the alleged human trafficking in the Philippines, prostitution in the Philippines, sexual slavery or trafficking in human beings dens in Angeles City, Pampanga. Revilla re-filed Senate Bill No. 12, the "Anti Pornography Bill."[12]

However, Angeles City police Chief Sonny Cunanan denied the allegations, alleging "the Women's and Children's Concerned Section (WCCS) and other agencies of the Angeles City Government that are responsible for the regular inspection of different bars and nightclubs have no records about the existence of a sex slave camp in the city." But he confirmed that "Angeles intelligence policemen, in coordination with other counterparts, were directed to look into the veracity of the report and file necessary charges against the operators of the illegal activities if these really exist."[13]

Sexually Transmitted Diseases[edit]

Rape is always associated with the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).[7]

Rape of Children[edit]

Research studies conducted in schools show that for every 3 Filipino children, one child experiences abuse. During the first semester of 1999 alone, there were 2,393 children who fell prey to rape, attempted rape, incest, acts of lasciviousness and prostitution.[4]


In a conservative society like the Philippines where a woman’s chastity is upheld as a virtue, the shame of being raped cuts deep. The same attitude lays blame on the victim, labeling the woman as “a flirt” who caused the act, wittingly or unwittingly, through various signals of enticement or invitation.[14]


Most victims of gang rape remain silent for months before reporting the crime. Obet Montes, coordinator for services of the women's group GABRIELA, says this is due to the victim’s fear of society’s judgment, of not wanting to be branded as “maruming babae” ("dirty woman"). The group says further that a rape victim becomes so afraid that she is going to be blamed for the crime, that she denies that she was violated.[14]

Claire Padilla, a lawyer and advocate of women's rights who prosecuted the case of a 19-year old who had the mental capacity of a six-year old, says that a rape victim who keeps silent becomes easy prey for continued abuse.[14]

US Military Presence[edit]

See also: Subic rape case

In December 2006, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the rape of a Filipino woman. In April 2009, after the accuser recanted her testimony, an appeals court acquitted Smith.[15][16]

Spousal Rape[edit]

Spousal rape and abuse are also illegal, but enforcement is ineffective.[5]

PNP and DSWD[edit]

The PNP and DSWD both maintained help desks to assist victims of violence against women and to encourage the reporting of crimes. With the assistance of NGOs, officers received gender sensitivity training to deal with victims of sexual crimes and domestic violence. Approximately seven to eight percent of PNP officers were women. The PNP has a Women and Children's Unit to deal with these issues.[5]


The women’s group GABRIELA provides counseling for battered women, rape victims and other victims of violence against women.[14] The Bathaluman Crisis Centre Foundation helps victims of rape and incest. The Support Group Volunteers provide assistance, and psychological interventions may also be initiated at the centre. Where appropriate, cases are referred to other agencies for more specialist assistance. The Women's Crisis Centre (WCC) provides temporary shelter, medical assistance and advocacy, legal assistance and advocacy, and stress management, it has two particularly innovative components - Feminist Counselling, and a Survivors Support Group to rape victims.[17]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "The Anti-Rape Law of 1997". Chanrobles Law Library. 1997-09-30. Retrieved 2006-12-20. 
  2. ^ "Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (Book two)". Chanrobles Law Library. December 8, 1930. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  (As amended. See article 335.)
  3. ^ Rape: An Underreported Crime, Asian Women's Resource Exchange, retrieved 2008-02-18 ; citing 1998. "New rape law sides with victims in the Philippines," Balance. Fiji: Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM). March–April. p.5.
  4. ^ a b Child Abuse: A Silent Epidemic, Child Protection in the Philippines, retrieved 2008-02-18 
  5. ^ a b c Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2006, U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007, retrieved 2008-02-18 
  6. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007, U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 11, 2008, retrieved 2008-09-02 
  7. ^ a b PHILIPPINES: Fear, shame and impunity: Rape and sexual abuse of women in custody, Amnesty International, retrieved 2008-02-18 
  8. ^ Martin Brass (2004), The Modern Scourge of Sex Slavery, Soldier of Fortune Magazine 
  9. ^ Lin Lean Lim (1998), The Sex Sector: The Economic and Social Bases of Prostitution in Southeast Asia, International Labour Organization, ISBN 92-2-109522-3 
  10. ^ Yiorgos Apostolopoulos, Stella Leivadi, Andrew Yiannakis (1996), The Sociology of Tourism, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-13508-7 
  11. ^ http://www.jimmyregina.com/wp/tag/early-work-release/
  13. ^ sunstar.com.ph/static/net, Cop chief denies sex slave camp in Angeles
  14. ^ a b c d Guia Abad (April 30 – May 6, 2006), Rape Victims Viewed as 'Dirty Women' VI (12), Bulatlat, retrieved 2008-02-18 
  15. ^ Subic Rape Case Timeline, GMA News, March 17, 2009 .
  16. ^ Court of Appeals decision acquitting Daniel Smith.
  17. ^ Organizations Addressing VAW, United Nations development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), retrieved 2008-02-18