Portuguese judges have sparked outrage after quoting the Bible as justification for handing down a suspended sentence to a man who attacked his ex-wife with a nail-studded bat. He had alleged that she was unfaithful to him.
According to court documents, the man had used his homemade weapon to assault his ex in the street, leaving her covered in cuts and bruises.
Yet, despite the severity of the crime, the judges presiding over the case remarked that they expressed “some understanding” for the attacker.
In the Porto court's written ruling, which became available only on Monday, the judges wrote that: “The adultery of the woman is a very serious attack on the honor and dignity of man,” they wrote in the Porto court’s written ruling.
They went on to note that there are still some societies in which "the adulterous woman is stoned to death,” reports Publico.
As a consequence of this, the man received a 15-month suspended sentence and a fine of 1,750 euros ($2,000).
The prosecution, arguing that the attack warranted prison time of at least 3 and a half years, saw their appeal for a harsher sentence rejected.
Criticising the ruling, Attorney General Guilherme Figueiredo said: “It creates the false idea that the adulterous woman deserves punishment, unlike the adulterous man, which can create a wrong idea for violent citizens. We must be aware that there is a very serious problem of domestic violence in Portugal.”
Elsewhere, the Women’s Alternative and Response Union, a women’s rights group based in the country, have said that they will be taking to the streets to protest the “inadmissible” ruling.
“Evoking the Bible does not combine with the rule of law in our country and discredits the judicial norms,” said the group in a statement, adding that the “revolting” decision legitimised violence against women and looked like victim blaming.
Responding to the criticism, Portugal's Superior Magistrates Council said it had taken note of the “vivid criticism from broad sections of public opinion.”
However, it added that it had “limited power” to intervene – even in the face of such “archaic, inappropriate or unfortunate” comments by judges.
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