Woman Who Killed Her Rapist Sentenced to Prison

Case of Roxana Ruiz angers advocates of women's rights in Mexico
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2023 6:05 AM CDT
She Killed Her Rapist, Gets 6-Year Sentence
Activists paste photos of Roxana Ruiz that read in Spanish "Defending my life is not a crime" on a wall near a court building in Chimalhuacan, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

A Mexican woman who killed a man when he attacked and raped her in 2021 has been sentenced to more than six years in prison, a decision her legal defense called “discriminatory” and vowed to appeal. The ruling against Roxana Ruiz spurred anger from experts and feminist groups who said it speaks to the depth of gender-based violence and Mexico’s poor record of bringing perpetrators of sexual violence to justice. "It’s sending the message to women that, you know what, the law says you can defend yourself, but only to a point,” said Ángel Carrera, her defense lawyer, per the AP. “He raped you, but you don’t have the right to do anything.”

While the Mexico State court found last week that Ruiz had been raped, it said the 23-year-old was guilty of homicide with “excessive use of legitimate defense," adding that hitting the man in the head would have been enough to defend herself. Ruiz was also ordered to pay more than $16,000 in reparations to the family of the man who raped her. In May 2021, Ruiz was working selling french fries in Nezahualcoyotl, one of the 11 municipalities in the Mexico State with an ongoing gender alert for femicides and another one for forced disappearances of women. While having a beer with a friend, Ruiz, a Indigenous Mixteca woman and a single mother from the state of Oaxaca, met a man she had seen around the neighborhood.

After hanging out, he offered to walk her home and later asked to stay the night because it was late and he was far from home. Ruiz agreed to let him sleep on a mattress on the floor. But while she slept he climbed onto her bed, hit her, tore off her clothes, and raped her, according to Ruiz's legal defense. Ruiz fought back, hitting him in the nose. He threatened to kill her, and in the struggle to free herself, she strangled him with a T-shirt, per Insider. In a panic, Ruiz put the man’s body in a bag and dragged it out to the street where passing police arrested her. Despite telling police she had been raped, Carrera said a forensic exam was never taken, a crucial step in prosecuting sexual violence cases.

story continues below

Instead, an officer responded that she probably wanted to have sex with the man at first and then changed her mind, he said. “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, adding, “It’s evident that the state wants to shut us up, wants us to be submissive, wants us closed up inside, wants us dead.” Women's rights groups have repeatedly accused Mexican authorities of revictimizing survivors and failing to judge cases with a gender perspective. Nearly half of Mexican women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, government data shows.

(More Mexico stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.