Mexican authorities have dropped their charges and revoked the six-year prison sentence against Roxana Ruiz, a 23-year-old woman who killed her rapist during an attack.
The court had recently convicted Ruiz for the act of self-defense, leading her to pursue an appeal. The verdict caused outrage among women’s rights organizations in Mexico and internationally, as it was revealed that Ruiz had awakened to find herself being raped, bravely resisted and fought back while facing threats to her life.
In 2021, Ruiz encountered the man while she was out with friends, and he offered to accompany her home. Given the late hour and his distant residence, she allowed him to stay overnight, providing him with a separate room and a mattress to sleep on. However, in the middle of the night, Ruiz woke up to find him attacking her.
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Although the court acknowledged the accuracy of her account, it still found her guilty of “excessive use of legitimate defense” and convicted her of homicide. Additionally, Ruiz was instructed to pay a minimum of $16,000 in restitution to the attacker’s family.
This ruling sparked strong criticism from victims’ advocacy groups and feminist organizations, who argued that it unfairly criminalized survivors of sexual violence while shielding perpetrators. Numerous protests erupted in support of Ruiz, an Indigenous Mixteca woman and single mother, with demonstrators carrying signs declaring, “Defending my life isn’t a crime.”
Gender-based violence is widespread in Mexico, with government data indicating that nearly half of all women in the country have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Following the verdict and sentencing, Ruiz revealed that she had received death threats and expressed concerns for the safety of her 4-year-old son and the rest of her family.
“It means that they’re recognizing her innocence,” said her defense attorney, Ángel Carrera. “It’s a recognition that she simply defended herself.”