A Mexican court of law recently sparked outrage by sentencing a young woman to six years in prison for “excessive use of legitimate defense”, because she killed the man who was raping her.
The sentencing of Roxana Ruiz, a 23-year-old single mother from Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, on Monday has been making international news headlines all week. The young woman was charged with homicide with an excess of legitimate self-defense after she strangled the man who was raping her in her own home, and is now facing six years in prison, as well as an obligation to compensate her assailant’s family financially. Ruiz, who has already served nine months behind bars after her initial arrest in 2021, claims that she would have most likely been killed by the man raping her if she didn’t kill him first, but the judge ruled that a simple blow to the head would have been enough to incapacitate the assailant.
In May of 2021, Roxana Ruiz was selling french fries in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico State, and having a beer with a friend. That’s when she met a man that she had seen a round the neighborhood before, and after hanging out for a while, he offered to walk her home. He then asked if he could spend the night, because it was late and he was a long way from home, and she agreed to let him crash on the couch.
Ruiz says that in the middle of the night, the man crawled into her bed, and started hitting her and reaping her clothes off. She defended herself by punching the assailant in the nose, and he threatened to kill her for it, but she managed to grab a shirt and choke him to death. In a panic, Roxana put the man’s body in a large bag and dragged his dead body into the street, where she was discovered by police and arrested.
“I regret what I did, but if I hadn’t done it I would be dead today,” Roxana Ruiz told the Associated Press, adding that despite telling the police that she had been raped, a forensic exam was never taken, and one officer even said that she ha probably wanted to sleep with the assailant initially and then changed her mind.
The 23-year-old woman was charged with homicide and spent nine months in jail but was subsequently released to await her trial. On Monday, Judge Monica Osorio ruled that Ruiz was guilty of using excessive force to defend herself against the man raping her. She argued that Roxana “could have given him a blow to the head to defend herself and leaving him unconscious would have been enough”.
The court sentenced Ruiz to six years and even ordered her to pay $16,000 as reparation to her rapist’s family. The young woman’s lawyers called the sentence discriminatory and vowed to appeal it.
“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 says you can defend yourself, but only to a point,” Ángel Carrera, Roxana’s defense lawyer, said. “He raped you, but you don’t have the right to do anything.”