Discriminatory provisions vs 'legal wives' hit

Posted at 05/27/14 1:48 PM

MANILA - Gabriela Party-list lawmakers urged the repeal of several provisions in the Revised Penal Code that discriminate against women in extra marital affairs.

Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan said extra marital affairs committed by married men and women are criminal acts, but Articles 333 and 334 discriminate against women.

Under Article 333, a wife can be convicted of a crime of adultery for a single act of sexual intercourse with a man who is not her husband, while under Art. 334, the husband can only be convicted of the crime of concubinage if he is found guilty of any of the following: (1) keeping a mistress in a conjugal dwelling; (2) having sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances with a woman who is not his wife; or (3) cohabiting with her in any other place.

A husband will only have to prove that his wife engaged in a sexual intercourse with another. On the other hand, the wife will still have to prove that her husband engaged in a sexual intercourse with another person “under scandalous circumstances.”

"The abolition of this stricter moral standard, set in the 1930s when the RPC took effect, on fidelity on married women vis-à-vis their male counterparts is long overdue," the lawmakers noted.

They said both the provisions are being used so that the other party will be pressured to cooperate or give in to support negotiations.

“Worse, separated or abandoned wives, who have no remedy under the law in the absence of a divorce law, are always under constant threat of suit from their estranged husbands. They are blackmailed by their estranged husbands through Art. 333. On the other hand, while the women also have grounds to file under Art. 334, they face the difficulty of proving the crime due to the inherent difficulty in the standards set by the law,” they said.

"In many cases, women who are faced by these threats are forced to forego legitimate custodial claims of their children while some are forced to give up their claims over conjugal properties, assets and the like," the lawmakers added.

They said the provisions run contrary to the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Law.