MEXICO CITY (AP) – A Mexican woman who killed a man defending herself when he attacked and raped her in 2021 was sentenced to more than six years in prison, a decision her legal defence called “discriminatory” and vowed to appeal on Tuesday.
The ruling against Roxana Ruiz spurred anger from experts and feminist groups who said it speaks to the depth of gender-based violence and Mexico’s poor record of bringing perpetrators of sexual violence to justice.
“It would be a bad precedent if this sentence were to hold. It’s sending the message to women that, you know what, the law said you can defend yourself, but only to a point,” said her defence lawyer Ángel Carrera. “He raped you, but you don’t have the right to do anything.”
The Associated Press does not normally identify sexual assault victims, but Ruiz has given her permission to be identified and participates in public demonstrations led by activists who support her. While the Mexico State court found on Monday that Ruiz had been raped, it said the 23-year-old was guilty of homicide with “excessive use of legitimate defence”, adding that hitting the man in the head would have been enough to defend herself.
Ruiz was also ordered to pay more than USD16,000 in reparations to the family of the man who raped her.
In May 2021, Ruiz was working selling french fries in Nezahualcoyotl, one of the 11 municipalities in the Mexico State with an ongoing gender alert for femicides and another one for forced disappearances of women.
While hanging out with a friend, Ruiz, met a man she had seen around the neighbourhood.
After hanging out, he offered to walk her home and later asked to stay the night because it was late and he was far from home.
Ruiz agreed to let him sleep on a mattress on the floor. But while she slept he climbed onto her bed, hit her, tore off her clothes and raped her, according to Ruiz’s legal defence. Ruiz fought back, hitting him in the nose.
He threatened to kill her, and in the struggle to free herself she killed him in self defence.