R.P.B., a Filipina national born in 1989 who is both deaf and mute, was raped by her 19-year-old neighbor in 2006. The case remained at the trial court level for five years before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City acquitted the defendant in 2011. Similar to a previous case from the Philippines heard by the CEDAW Committee in 2008, Karen Tayag Vetrido v. The Philippines, the Court again declined to apply Filipino Supreme Court precedent. Instead, the Court relied on gender-based myths and stereotypes about rape and rape victims, finding that the victim should have used every opportunity to escape or resist her attacker. In addition, State authorities did not provide any interpretation for R.P.B. In her complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, R.P.B. argued that the Court’s actions violated article 1, and article 2(c), (d), and (f) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition to relying on gender based myths and stereotypes, R.P.B. also argued that the Court failed to provided her with accessibility, on an equal basis with other victims, to the court, as a woman who is also deaf and mute. The Committee held that the provision of sign language interpretation was essential to ensure R.P.B’s full and equal participation in the proceedings, in compliance with article 2(c) and 2(d) of the Convention. Further, the Committee held that the State party erred in relying on gender-based stereotyping, which resulted in sex and gender-based discrimination and disregard for the individual circumstances of the case, such as R.P.B’s disability and age. The Committee recommended that the State provide R.P.B. with the appropriate compensation and free-of-charge counseling, review the existing law and remove any requirement that sexual assault be committed by force or violence, guarantee the free and adequate assistance of interpreters, ensure that all criminal proceedings involving rape and other sexual offences are conducted in an impartial and fair manner, free from prejudices or stereotypical notions regarding the victim’s gender, age and disability, and provide adequate and regular training on the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the Committee’s general recommendations.
R.P.B. v. The Philippines