Mexican Woman Sentenced for Killing Attacker in Self-Defense, Sparks Outrage Over Gender-Based Violence

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In a decision that has drawn widespread condemnation, Roxana Ruiz, a Mexican woman who defended herself against a man who attacked and raped her in 2021, has been sentenced to over six years in prison. Her legal defense team has decried the ruling as discriminatory and has vowed to appeal the verdict.

The case of Ruiz has ignited anger among experts and feminist groups, shedding light on the pervasive issue of gender-based violence and Mexico’s inadequate track record in holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable. According to Angel Carrera, Ruiz’s defense lawyer, the verdict sets a dangerous precedent, sending a message to women that while the law allows self-defense, there are limits to how far they can protect themselves. Carrera emphasized the inherent contradiction in the ruling, stating, “He raped you, but you don’t have the right to do anything. “While the Mexico State court acknowledged that Ruiz had been raped, it found her guilty of homicide with “excessive use of legitimate defense.” The court argued that hitting the assailant in the head would have been sufficient to defend herself. Additionally, Ruiz was ordered to pay over $16,000 in reparations to the family of the man who raped her.

Ruiz, an Indigenous Mixteca woman and single mother from the state of Oaxaca, encountered her attacker while working and agreed to let him stay the night at her place. However, he proceeded to assault and rape her while she was asleep. In an act of self-defense, Ruiz fought back, ultimately killing her attacker. Despite reporting the rape to the police, Ruiz was met with disbelief and a lack of proper investigation. This case has highlighted the urgent need for justice in cases of sexual violence in Mexico, where gender-based violence remains a deeply entrenched issue. The ruling against Ruiz has sparked public demonstrations and solidarity from activists supporting her cause. The outcry underscores the necessity of a more comprehensive approach to combatting gender-based violence and ensuring that victims of sexual assault are not further victimized by the legal system.

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