Rape is one of the most prevalent forms of violence against women (VAW) in the Philippines. Reported rape cases ranked third (13.1%) of the total reported VAW cases in the country from 1999 to 2009. The hard fact is that this is not yet the true representation of the problem. Due to cultural and social stigmatization associated with rape, many women victims prefer to maintain their silence and not report their ordeal to the authorities.

The government with the aid of NGOs have taken initiatives to set up crisis centers for rape survivors in collaboration with the different sectors of the community to help victims deal with the trauma and encourage them to report rape. Several rape-related laws have also been passed to address the concern. Through the provision of suitable legal support and health services, it is hoped that women victims of rape be encouraged to come forward for proper intervention and justice to be served accordingly.

What is rape and how is it committed?

Republic Act No. 8353, known as the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, expanded the definition of the crime of rape and re-classified it as a crime against persons.  Previously, it was classified as a crime against chastity, and belonged to the group of crimes that include adultery, concubinage, acts of lasciviousness, seduction, corruption of minors and white slave trade. As a crime against persons, the law no longer considers it as a private crime. Anyone who has knowledge of the crime may file a case on the victim's behalf. Prosecution continues even if the victim drops the case or pardons the offender.

Rape is committed under the following circumstances:

  1. A man has sexual intercourse with a woman:
    • Through force, threat or intimidation;
    • When the victim is deprived of reason or is unconscious;
    • Through fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and
    • When the victim is under 12 years of age or is demented, even if none of the above conditions are present.
  2. Any person who, under any of the above conditions, commits an act of sexual assault through oral or anal sex or by inserting an instrument or object into the anal or genital orifice of another person.

What are the laws relating to rape and what are the penalties for perpetrators under these laws?

In the Philippines, there are two laws enacted that directly address rape namely:

  • R.A. 8353: The Anti-Rape Law of 1997
  • R.A. 8505: The Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998

Under R.A. 8353, the penalties for rape perpetrators vary depending on the act itself and the circumstances surrounding it. These are the following:

Reclusion perpetua (imprisonment from 20 to 40 years) is imposed on the offender if rape is committed through sexual intercourse

Prision mayor (imprisonment from six to 12 years) is imposed on the offender if rape was committed through oral or anal sex or through the use of any object or instrument that was inserted into the mouth or anal orifice of the woman or a man. This may also be elevated to reclusion temporal (imprisonment from 12 to 20 years) or reclusion perpetua depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.