The Supreme Court of the Philippines has ruled that marital infidelity is psychological violence under the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 in the case of a man who lived with and impregnated another woman while his wife was working overseas.
The couple married and had a daughter in 2006; the wife left to work in Singapore in 2008. It was in 2015 when the wife found out about her husband’s mistress, but she would only return to the Philippines when she heard that her husband had brought the other woman to their hometown to live together.
The Supreme Court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt for his marital infidelity, his cohabitation with another woman who bore him a child, and his abandonment of his wife. This decision, dated March 1, supports the Court of Appeals and Regional Trial Court’s decision to convict the man of the crime.
Marital infidelity goes against Sec. 5(i) of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act (Anti-VAW Act): “Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman's child/children.”
His penalty? He will be sent to prison for a minimum of two years and four months. In addition, he will be imposed with a fine of P100,000 and will be required to undergo psychological counseling.
Why is the Supreme Court’s ruling on martial infidelity significant?
Other forms of abuse like physical, sexual, and economic violence have been long considered as a crime in court. This is the first time the Supreme Court of the Philippines has ever recognized marital infidelity as a crime, which means this case will set a precedent for future cases with similar issues.
It is important to note that marital infidelity is different from adultery, which is definited as "committed by any married woman who shall lie with a man who is not her husband and by a man who has carnal knowing her to be married" as per ART. 434 of the Penal Code.
The Supreme Court also stressed that in cases of marital infidelity, “the law does not require proof that the victim become psychologically ill due to the psychological violence done by her abuser. Rather, the law only requires emotional anguish and mental suffering to be proven.” Establishing this would require that the victim would go to court to narrate such experiences.
It wasn’t just his wife who experienced mental and emotional anguish. The child was only nine years old when she was asked to take the witness stand in 2015.
Talking about the child, the Supreme Court noted: “[Her] psychological trauma was evident when she wept in open court upon being asked to narrate petitioner’s infidelity. In particular, [she] explained that she was deeply hurt because her father had another family and loved another woman other than her mother.”
After the Regional Trial Court’s ruling, the man tried to file a motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals, claiming that he had been taking care of the child since she was seven months old and that the mother had alienated his child from him following his affair.
The CA found no merit in the petition and charged him for abandoning his family. This was when the man took his case to the Supreme Court.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.