Violence against women
GR No. 182835, RUSTAN ANG y PASCUA v. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND IRISH SAGUD, April 20, 2010
The provisions (of R.A. 9262 a.k.a. Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act), taken together, indicate that the elements of the crime of violence against women through harassment are:
1. The offender has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the offended woman;
2. The offender, by himself or through another, commits an act or series of acts of harassment against the woman; and
3. The harassment alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to her.
?Dating relationship? refers to a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship. ?Sexual relationship? is defined as a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child.
Firstly, the accused claims that, being ?romantically involved,? implies that the offender and the offended woman have or had sexual relations. According to him, ?romance? implies a sexual act. But it seems clear that the law did not use in its provisions the colloquial verb ?romance? that implies a sexual act. It did not say that the offender must have ?romanced? the offended woman. Rather, it used the noun ?romance? to describe a couple?s relationship, i.e., ?a love affair.?
R.A. 9262 provides in Section 3 that ?violence against women refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship.? Clearly, the law itself distinguishes a sexual relationship from a dating relationship. The dating relationship that the law contemplates can, therefore, exist even without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved.
Secondly, the accused also claims that since the relationship between Irish and him was of the ?on-and-off? variety (away-bati), their romance cannot be regarded as having developed ?over time and on a continuing basis.
An ?away-bati? or a fight-and-kiss thing between two lovers is a common occurrence. Their taking place does not mean that the romantic relation between the two should be deemed broken up during periods of misunderstanding. Explaining what ?away-bati? meant, the victim explained that at times, when she could not reply to Rustan?s messages, he would get angry at her. That was all. Indeed, she characterized their three-month romantic relation as continuous.
Thirdly, the accused further argues that the one act of sending an offensive picture should not be considered a form of harassment. He claims that such would unduly ruin him personally and set a very dangerous precedent. But Section 3(a) of R.A. 9262 punishes ?any act or series of acts? that constitutes violence against women. This means that a single act of harassment, which translates into violence, would be enough. The object of the law is to protect women and children. Punishing only violence that is repeatedly committed would license isolated ones.