8 Gender-based Myths and Misconceptions about Rape

In 2007, Karen Vertido communicated to the United Nations that trial court decisions in rape cases in the Philippines are systematically discriminatory against women, that said decisions “perpetuate discriminatory beliefs about rape victims.” (CEDAW/C/46/D/18/2008, para. 3.8). In her complaint, she listed eight myths and misconceptions about rape that the presiding judge, Judge Virginia Hofilena-Europa, relied upon in deciding to acquit Karen Vertido’s alleged perpetrator, and they are as follows:

1. A rape victim must try to escape at every opportunity.

2. To be raped by means of intimidation, the victim must be timid or easily cowed.

3. To conclude that a rape occurred by means of threat, there must be clear evidence of a direct threat.

4. The fact that the accused an the victim are “more than nodding acquaintances” makes the sex consensual.

5. When a victim reacts to the assault by resisting the attack and also by cowering in submission because of fear, it is problematic.

6. The rape victim could not have resisted the sexual attack if the accused was able to proceed to ejaculation.

7. It is unbelievable that a man in his sixties would be capable of rape.

8. It is easy to make an accusation of rape; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove.

The issue, as framed by the Committee is, “What is the Philippines’ liability for wrongful gender stereotyping in judicial decisions?” Up next, I will detail Karen Vertido’s arguments and the Committee’s views on these myths.

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