Bible used to justify leniency towards a violent criminal
Back in 2015, an unnamed man in Portugal was given a 15-month suspended sentence and a fine of 1,750 euros (around £1,5002) for using a bat spiked with nails to assault his ex-wife, leaving her covered in cuts and bruises.
The prosecutor, according to this report, had argued the sentence was too lenient and asked an appeals court for prison time of three-and-half years.
But earlier this month the judges rejected the appeal. In their written ruling, they judges expressed “some understanding” for the attacker, saying a woman’s adultery is:
A very serious offence against a man’s honour and dignity.
They noted the Bible says an adulterous woman should be punished by death and also cited a 1886 Portuguese law that gave only symbolic sentences to men who killed their wives for suspected adultery.
The judges at the appeals court in Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, wrote that they were making reference to the Bible and an old law:
To stress that a woman’s adultery amounts to conduct which society has always condemned and condemned very strongly.
The ruling became public this week and sparked outrage on Portuguese social media, with numerous rights groups speaking out.
One of them, the Women’s Alternative and Response Union, described the ruling as “inadmissible” because it legitimised violence against women and blamed the victim. It said the separation of powers in Portugal means there is no place for the Bible in courtrooms.
The group planned street protests for Friday.
Portugal’s Superior Magistrates Council, an oversight body, said it had taken note of the “vivid criticism from broad sections of public opinion” but said courts are independent and it could not intervene, even when faced with “archaic, inappropriate or unfortunate” comments by judges.
The victim of the attack could appeal to Portugal’s higher courts.