Mistaken Identity

The more sensitive among us will most likely say that the contents of this article are inappropriate for publication especially for young readers. Honestly, I also had second thoughts on writing about a sensitive topic such as rape or sexual assault. This subject however, is something that we have to confront, discuss, educate ourselves about, and condemn as a society. For this writer, all of us whether young or old must learn about this act so that victims can easily go to the proper authorities without the feeling of shame or embarrassment.

An important element in the crime of rape or sexual assault is consent. Without consent the intercourse may be considered rape or sexual assault. What if the victim thinks that the man she is in bed with is her boyfriend when in fact it is somebody else? Is this still rape?

People vs. Salarza

Zareen and Enrico had a romantic relationship and would have sex nightly in their cottage. One night, Zareen was in bed alone when someone entered the room. Thinking that it was her boyfriend Enrico, Zareen did not protest or resist and in fact they had sex but during the intercourse, the man whispered to Zareen that he is Jun and not Enrico. Upon hearing that, Zareen pushed Jun and screamed while crying. After that, Zareen filed a case of rape against Jun claiming that had she known that it was June who entered the room that night she would have resisted and not allowed him to have sex with her. She claimed to have been mistaken with respect to the identity of Jun and therefore could not have given her consent to the intercourse. The Trial Court convicted Jun for the crime of rape and imposed the penalty of death.

Conscious, there was Consent

The Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Salarza. The SC ruled that Zareen was neither unconscious nor asleep during the alleged rape. During the trial, she was able to narrate the events in detail which indicates that she was fully aware of what was going on immediately before the alleged rape. The decision reads: “all these details vividly recalled and recounted by her ineluctably indicate that she was awake all the time and capable of comprehending the nature of the sexual act and of exercising her own free will as to yield to or resist”(G.R. No. 117682 August 18, 1997). Zareen should have known that it was not Enrico who entered the room because having an intimate relationship with him, she ought to know the difference in the actuations of June and Enrico. The Court added: “Moreover, being almost a stranger in the place, Zareen should have been leery of her surroundings especially at night. In this regard, she should not have left her cottage door unlocked”. Ultimately, the Supreme Court acquitted the accused and in fine pronounced: “Rape is a charge easy to make, hard to prove and harder to defend by the party accused, though innocent. Experience has shown that unfounded charges of rape have frequently been proffered by women actuated by some sinister, ulterior or undisclosed motive. Convictions for such crime should not be sustained without clear and convincing proof of guilt.


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