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22nd May 2023

Prosecutors drop case against woman who was sentenced for killing man as he raped her

Steve Hopkins

Roxanna Ruiz was initially jailed for 6 years

Prosecutors have dropped a case against a woman who was jailed for six years for killing a man as he raped and attacked her.

A Mexico court last week found that while it agreed that 23-year-old Roxana Ruiz was raped in 2021, she was guilty of homicide with “excessive use of legitimate defence”. Ruiz was also ordered to pay $16,000 (£12,800) in reparations to her attacker’s family.

The ruling sparked public outrage and protests, with feminist groups saying it criminalised survivors of sexual violence while protecting perpetrators.

Ruiz, an Indigenous woman and single mother, told reporters after her sentencing: “This isn’t justice. Remember I am the one who was sexually assaulted by that man, and after he died because I defended myself … because I didn’t want to die by his hands.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador later suggested he would seek a pardon for Ruiz, but her lawyers said accepting that would be admitting Ruiz committed a crime.

On Saturday night, the state Prosecutor’s Office said it had examined the case, and – taking into consideration that Ruiz is part of a vulnerable group — found she was “exempt from guilt”.

It added that the Prosecutor’s Office believes she acted in self-defence.

Ruiz’s defence lawyer, Ángel Carrera, told AP that the news meant prosecutors were “recognising her innocence”.

In May 2021, Ruiz was working selling fries and later had a drink with a friend and a man she knew from the neighbourhood. After the man walked her home, he asked to stay the night, as it was late and he was far from home. The pair slept on separate beds and during the night the man attacked and raped her.

Ruiz fought back as her attacker threatened to kill her. During the struggle, the man died.

AP noted that nearly half of Mexican women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. In 2022, the Mexican government registered a total of 3754 women — an average of 10 a day — who were killed.

Ruiz gave her permission to be named in media reports. Victims of sexual crimes automatically get name suppression.

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