R.P.B, a Filipina woman, was 17-years-old when she was raped in June 2006 by her neighbor. Like other members of her family, R.P.B. was deaf and mute. She filed a complaint with the local police, and was interviewed by a male police officer with the help of her sister, who provided sign language interpretation. R.P.B. and her sister were asked to sign an affidavit that was prepared in Filipino, even though her sign language fluency was in English. She was not provided a translation. She also underwent a medical exam which concluded there was clear evidence of trauma and sexual assault.

Although R.P.B.’s case was filed with the regional trial court in June 2006, and the perpetrator was arrested, the hearings were delayed over the course of several years, due to the unavailability of the prosecution’s witnesses. Further, no sign language interpretation was made available on other scheduled dates. The trial finally went forward on the testimony of the complainant and her mother only, plus written stipulations from the medico-legal officer and the police officer who had taken the initial complaint and medical exam. Finally, in January 2011, the accused was acquitted. In its decision, the court found that there was insufficient evidence that the complainant did not consent. The court noted the lack of evidence that she had physically resisted the assault: she had not cried out, nor attempted to escape by using force, nor were her clothes torn in any way. The court noted that an ordinary Filipina female rape victim would “summon every ounce of her strength and courage to thwart any attempt to besmirch her honor and blemish her purity.” The court found her behavior was inconsistent with that of an ordinary Filipina and the “reasonable standard of human conduct” because she had not sought to escape or resist. The court then concluded that this failure on her part cast doubt on her credibility and rendered her claim of lack of voluntariness and consent difficult to believe.

R.P.B. sought the CEDAW Committee’s review of the judgment from the regional trial court, alleging that the decision contained forms of gender-based discrimination and bias.