A Portuguese man who conspired with his ex-wife’s former lover to kidnap her and then beat her with a nail-spiked club has escaped jail time after a judge ruled that the woman’s “sexual immorality” justified his actions.
About three years ago, according to reports, a married woman began an affair with another man. After about two months, she decided to break up with him. The rejected lover then went to her husband and revealed that his wife had been unfaithful to him. After the couple divorced, the woman’s ex-husband and the former lover conspired to enact vengeance on her. Their plot culminated with her kidnapping by her former lover, and a savage beating at the hands of her ex-husband. The ex-husband was given a 15-month suspended sentence and a $2,000 fine for the assault, but the prosecutor decided to go to an appeals court in Porto, arguing that the man deserved prison time for his premeditated revenge plot.
In a shocking decision that cited the Bible and an over 100-year-old criminal law that allowed token punishments for men who killed their wives for adultery, Judges Neto de Moura and Maria Luísa Abrantes upheld the original ruling.
“Adultery by a woman is a very serious attack on a man’s honor and dignity,” the judges wrote in their ruling earlier this month. “In the Bible, we can read that the adulterous woman should be punished with death … society has always strongly condemned adultery by a woman and therefore sees the violence by a betrayed, vexed and humiliated man with some understanding.”
The judges added that the woman’s “disloyalty and sexual immorality” had pushed the husband into a “deep depression” that led to the brutal act of violence.
Amnesty International of Portugal has condemned the ruling as a “manifest violation” of separation of church and state. UMAR, the Women’s Union for Alternative and Response, is planning to protest the ruling on Friday in Lisbon, noting that the decision would encourage jilted men to believe they could commit violence with “total impunity.” According to the BBC, Judge Neto de Moura has made similar rulings in prior cases — including one case last year in which he overturned a prison conviction in an assault case because the victim had committed adultery.
“A woman who commits adultery is a false, hypocritical, dishonest, disloyal, futile, immoral person,” the judge ruled at the time. “In short, a person who lacks moral credibility.”
In an article for The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt further examined Portugal’s legal history of victim-blaming — and questioned the degree to which Portugal’s “ultra-orthodox patriarchy,” a staple of power under former dictator Antonio Salazar, still holds sway.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.