Violence Against Women and their Children or R.A. 9262 was enacted in 2004 and in our patriarchal society it seems that this law is yet to be fully accepted even after more than 10 years of effectivity. The government has then intensified its campaign to end violence against women and their children by mandating the conduct of lectures and workshops in its offices. Unluckily the public remains largely unaware about the protection rendered by R.A. 9262. The law provides kinds of violence: Sexual, Physical, Psychological, and Economic. It also provides for protection through the Baranggay Protection Order, Temporary Protection Order, and Permanent Protection Order for the immediate cessation of violence being exerted against a woman or her children. The law also contains a provision on Battered Woman Syndrome. Under the law, a woman suffering the syndrome will be excused from any criminal liability if she kills her husband. This is an innovation in our criminal law which was recognized by the Supreme Court in the case of People of the Philippines vs. Genosa (G.R. No. 135981, January 15, 2004).
People vs. Genosa
Marivic Genosa was found guilty by the trial court and appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court. She admits to the killing but she prays for her acquittal claiming that she is a battered woman and therefore excused from any criminal liability. Marivic claimed killing his husband after she was physically abused by him. After trial, the lower court found her guilty of parricide and sentenced her to death. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Marivic’s lawyer Atty. Katrina Legarda put forward battered woman syndrome as a defense. In 2004, the concept of Battered Woman Syndrome was still a novel one even for the High Court. Although the Court thinks that Marivic was a battered woman she could not be excused because there was no law at that time providing for the battered woman syndrome as a valid defense. Although the Court believed that Marivic was also a victim and may really be a battered woman, she was still sentenced but with a lighter penalty because of some mitigating circumstances. The SC’s recognition of the concept of Battered Woman Syndrome most probably influenced its inclusion in R.A. 9262 as a valid defense.
Battered Woman Syndrome as a Defense
The SC said: “The A battered woman has been defined as a woman who is repeatedly subjected to any forceful physical or psychological behavior by a man in order to coerce her to do something he wants her to do without concern for her rights. Battered women include wives or women in any form of intimate relationship with men. Furthermore, in order to be classified as a battered woman, the couple must go through the battering cycle at least twice. Any woman may find herself in an abusive relationship with a man once. If it occurs a second time, and she remains in the situation, she is defined as a battered woman. Battered women exhibit common personality traits, such as low self-esteem, traditional beliefs about the home, the family and the female sex role; emotional dependence upon the dominant male; the tendency to accept responsibility for the batterers actions; and false hopes that the relationship will improve. More graphically, the battered woman syndrome is characterized by the so-called cycle of violence, which has three phases: (1) the tension-building phase; (2) the acute battering incident; and (3) the tranquil, loving (or, at least, nonviolent) phase.” For the defense to be valid these must be present “First, each of the phases of the cycle of violence must be proven to have characterized at least two battering episodes between the appellant and her intimate partner. Second, the final acute battering episode preceding the killing of the batterer must have produced in the battered persons mind an actual fear of an imminent harm from her batterer and an honest belief that she needed to use force in order to save her life. Third, at the time of the killing, the batterer must have posed probable — not necessarily immediate and actual — grave harm to the accused, based on the history of violence perpetrated by the former against the latter.