Authorities in Mexico have withdrawn their case against a woman who killed her rapist mid-attack, taking away her six-year prison sentence.

Roxana Ruiz, 23, was sentenced last week by a court in the self-defense killing and was mobilizing for an appeal.

The verdict threw women’s rights groups in Mexico and beyond into an uproar, sparking public outcry especially given that she had woken up as she was being raped, struggled and fought as he threatened to kill her.

Ruiz had met the man while out with a group of friends in 2021 and he offered to walk her home. Once there, she agreed he could stay overnight because he was far from his own home and it was late. She let him sleep on a mattress in a separate room, while she went to sleep in her own bed.

In the middle of the night, Ruiz awoke to find him attacking her.

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While the court agreed with that version of events, it deemed her guilty of using “excessive use of legitimate defense” in convicting her of homicide. Ruiz was also ordered to pay at least $16,000 in reparations to her attacker’s family.

Victims’ advocacy groups and feminist organizations said the ruling criminalized sexual-violence survivors and protected perpetrators. Protests broke out in support of the Indigenous Mixteca woman and single mother, with demonstrators carrying signs declaring, “Defending my life isn’t a crime.”

Roxana Ruiz shouts slogans during a march in memory of Diana Velazquez, who was making a call outside her home in 2017 when she was disappeared, raped and killed, in Chimalhuacan, State of Mexico, Mexico, July 2, 2022.

Gender-based violence is rampant in Mexico, and government data indicate that nearly half of women in the country have been subject to sexual violence at some point in their lives.

After the ruling and sentence were handed down, Ruiz said she had received death threats and feared 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.”

With News Wire Services

Theresa Braine

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