Flashback circa 2000: the Supreme Court accepted the “battered wife syndrome” (BWS) as a mitigating circumstance in the crime and returned Genosa’s case to the Ormoc regional trial court. The SC referred it back to the lower court. With instructions to consult clinical psychologists to better assess Genosa’s state of mind at the time of her husband’s killing.
After four years, Genosa who was then on death row was spared from death penalty. The parricide conviction stays, but her sentence was reduced from 14 to six years. The 2004 decision came with an order of her release for time served. The landmark decision paved the way for BWS to be invoked as a legal defense.
Incidentally, after a few months after its promulgation, The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262). The law is an act defining violence against women and their children, providing for protective measures for victims, prescribing penalties therefore, and for other purposes. It defines BWS as:
a scientifically defined pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships as a result of cumulative abuse.
The legal recognition of BWS is a welcome development not only in Philippine jurisprudence per se but more so for those who have been advocating against violence against women in intimate relationships. The law and BWS by themselves are not protect women and their children from many forms of abuse. Much less answer the question of why would anyone get caught up in this terrible situation in the first place? Why wouldn’t they get out at the very first sign of mistreatment?
The law as a recourse can serve it purpose. Congress though RA 9262 has even criminalized (against fathers) withholding of support in certain instances. A victim-survivor can petition for protections orders when necessary.
These sanctions however, can never approximate nor much more repay the injustice of abuse and the personal destruction it brings. It’ll take time and therapy (in many form) before victims could realize that they did not cause not deserve the abuse.