Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Mougdiel S.M., Case No. APN-135-15 Tribunal de Sentencia de Ahuachapan (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This case is an appeal from a judgment by a lower court.  Judge Delmy Elizabeth Mejia Salazar found Alvin, a 27-year-old farmer originating from Concepcion de Ataco, guilty of attempted rape of a minor (11 years old) in violation of articles 159 and 172 of the El Salvadoran criminal code, and sentenced Alvin to seven years imprisonment.  In the underlying case, the victim testified that Alvin forced her into a crawling position, raped, and sodomized her.  On appeal, Alvin argued that the sentencing judge did not properly apply article 179 of the criminal code of procedure as the evidence presented by the forensic expert did not show any injuries in support of a finding of rape and/or sodomization.  On appeal, the court emphasized that the medical examination was conducted a month and a half after the attempted rape and sodomization, which provided sufficient time for any injuries to heal.  The court further stated that article 159 of the penal code does not require the use of violence and indicated that not every attempted violation will leave physical evidence (e.g., if the victim has a passive reaction to the aggression which does not result in the use of force).  Additionally, Alvin did not deny attempting to sexually assault the victim by putting her in a crawling position.  Thus, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling and sentence, which was shorter than the eight years imprisonment recommended by the relevant statute.

Kisingiri v. Uganda High Court at Kampala (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of having carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature (i.e., homosexual sex acts, in this case anal sexual intercourse) in violation of section 145 of the Penal Code Act.  On appeal, appellant’s counsel emphasized the State offered no evidence of penetration, that corroboration is necessary in cases of sexual offenses, and the compromised credibility of several material prosecution witnesses, including a complainant.  Four years before the trial when he was 17 or 18, the complainant testified that he went to the Appellant’s home for a party, which never happened.  Instead, the Appellant gave the complainant a glass of wine and the complainant blacked out.  The next thing he remembered was anal bleeding and seeing the defendant entering the room.  The complainant testified that he was too ashamed to ask what happened.  The following day went to the doctor, who told the complainant that it seemed that he had been sodomized and gave him medication.  The appellate judge agreed with the trial judge that this did not amount to direct evidence of a sexual act.  Four years later in 2013, the complainant told Reverend Solomon Male about the assault after hearing him on the radio.  The police then searched the appellant’s home where they found chloroform, which the complainant was not examined for at his 2009 doctor’s appointment.  Both the trial and appellate judges noted that the fact that the complainant did not tell any of his housemates about his bleeding or assault at the time cast doubt on his account.  While medical evidence is not required for sexual assault cases, the court here was concerned that it found no evidence at all of sexual assault.  The Court found that the trial judge erred in finding that the complainant’s failure to report the assault in 2009 was “a natural reaction” as a result of shame, especially because no psychologist or behavioral specialist testified at trial.  The appellate court quashed the defendant’s conviction and sentence after finding that the prosecution failed to prove the first element of the offense, penetration, beyond a reasonable doubt.  The appellate court also mentioned a key witness’, Pastor Solomon Male’s, publication of “malicious information of sodomy” against Ugandan pastor Robert Kayanja, which is a reference to an incident in which a boy who had accused Kayanja of sodomy withdrew his accusations and said that Male and several of his colleagues paid him and other boys to accuse the minister.  In that case, Male and his clergy colleagues were convicted of conspiring to destroy Kayanja’s name and professional reputation.