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Woman Who Strangled Her Rapist to Death Sentenced to 6 Years for ‘Excessive Use of Legitimate Defense’

A Mexican woman has been sentenced to six years and two months in prison for “excessive use of legitimate defense” after strangling an acquaintance who threatened and raped her, according to the Associated Press.

In a ruling on Monday, the Mexico State court acknowledged Roxana Ruiz was a rape victim, but said in its decision that the 23-year-old was guilty of homicide because a “blow on the head” would have been enough to defend herself as opposed to killing her assailant. Ruiz was sentenced to over six years, and ordered to pay more than $16,000 in reparations to the family of the man who raped her, the AP reported.

“I feel sad, disappointed in justice,” Ruiz told reporters after the hearing. “If I hadn’t defended myself, I would be dead.” Ruiz’s legal defense team has vowed to appeal the decision and called the sentencing “discriminatory.”

“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,” defense lawyer Ángel Carrera, told the AP on Tuesday. “He raped you, but you don’t have the right to do anything.”

Several activists and others have expressed anger noting that the ruling sheds light on the stigmas of gender-based violence and the experiences survivors who defend themselves have. 

Nos Queremos Vivas (We Want to Stay Alive), a Mexican organization that campaigns against violence issued the following statement, according to the Telegraph.

“No woman should be jailed for defending lives that the state does not protect.” The statement continued: “Roxana Ruiz’s life, as well as that of hundreds of poor women who are imprisoned today, will not improve by denying her the right to freedom; on the contrary, it perpetuates the existence of structural and cultural violence.”

Ruiz was arrested two years ago by police in the city of Nezahualcóyotl, near Mexico when she was allegedly found trying to drag a bag containing the body parts of her attacker. 

According to the AP, Ruiz had put the man’s body in a bag in a panic after the incident when police officials approached her. While she shared her story and said that she had been raped, no forensic exam was taken. Instead, an officer allegedly accused her of changing her mind after wanting to have sex with the man.

“I regret what I did, but if I hadn’t done it I would be dead today,” Ruiz told the AP in an interview last year. ”It’s evident that the state wants to shut us up, wants us to be submissive, wants us closed up inside, wants us dead.” Prior to her trial, Ruiz spent nine months in jail on charges of homicide with “excess of legitimate self-defense.”

Ruiz’s story was shared in a letter published by activists, in which she noted that her attacker was a man who insisted on staying in her home after she went for a beer with a friend. The man had claimed he lived far away and asked to stay at Ruiz’s home to which Ruiz offered him a place to sleep on the floor.

But during his stay he forced himself on her, in her efforts to free herself she strangled the man with a t-shirt, leaving him dead. “Maybe I was supposed to let my attacker do as he pleased, possibly leaving me dead,” Ruiz said in a letter after being arrested and imprisoned last year, The Daily Star reported.

“I know that I will be sentenced for defending my body, for defending myself as a woman, for having punished my attacker, for not having kept quiet, and for having taken action.” According to the AP, Ruiz is a single mother and an Indigenous Mixteca woman. 

Government statistics cited by the AP indicate that at least 3,754 women were “intentionally killed” in Mexico in 2022, and nearly half of the Mexican women experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. Studies have also shown that Indigenous women statistically face higher rates of violence than any other population.

Ashlie is a senior reporter for the TosBos News. She covers live and breaking news from 6 am every day. Ashlie joined the M.E.N. in 2019 having previously worked for Cavendish Press news agency.


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