The shooting of Reeva Steenkamp
In recent days I have been glued to The Guardian News Blog‘s live coverage of Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing for his shooting of Reeva Steenkamp. I’ve always had a penchant for crime thrillers and this has been right up there with The Killing and Homeland.
But of course, this isn’t a TV drama, it isn’t even Dramality TV, it’s the real deal. This man shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp. What no-one except Oscar Pistorius truly knows at this stage is his motive for doing so; at best he is a trigger happy man fool of a man who shot blindly through a closed door without any real idea of who was behind it. At worst he is a misogynistic murderer. Either way, he has cut short a woman’s life.
It is very easy to objectify someone who looks like Reeva and had such a limelight lit life, law degree or no law degree. That’s what the media does to women who look like Reeva and the media does this because there are millions of us lapping it up.
I guess it could be argued that this is what women like Reeva do to themselves when they play the media game. But ultimately, Reeva Steenkamp wasn’t an object, she was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, many people’s friend. And she died a needless and awful death at the hands of her boyfriend.
South Africa’s shame is our shame
It was plain to see how broken Oscar was throughout the hearing. But then, whether it was a crime of rage and passion or a crime of stupidity, he has lost a woman he loved and life as he knew it. Only a psychopath would fail to be reduced to a quivering wreck in Oscar Pistorius’s situation.
And a psychopath is something that we can all be pretty certain Oscar is not. What he is, is a man who lives in South Africa, a country where owning a gun is run of the mill and extreme violence against women is common place.
Only weeks before Reeva’s death, Anene Booysen, a 17 year old girl died after being gang-raped and mutilated by her ex-boyfriend and another man. And in 2011 a father was charged with murder after shooting dead his daughter, claiming he mistook her for a burglar. South Africa appears to be yet another one of those countries country where life is cheap, especially if that life belongs to a woman.
As the prosecution and defence teams continue their work building cases for and against Oscar Pistorius’ version of events, the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp will be trying to come to terms with her death, not just the fact that she is gone, but the way in which she died. No family should ever have to lose someone in this way.
Join Avaaz and help end the war on women
I didn’t know Reeva, I’d never heard of her before Valentine’s Day and I am sure many of you reading hadn’t either. But I wanted to do something in tribute to a woman who needlessly lost her life - Reeva Steenkamp campaigned to put an end to violence against women and I’m asking everyone who reads this blog post to stand up and do their bit to help put an end to violence against women.
Avaaz are currently asking for our help to end the epidemic of the rape of women by security forces in Somalia. As British-Somali journalist and campaigner, Laila Ali, who is spearheading this particular campaign puts it, “rape is horrific, but to be raped when the only authorities you can turn to for justice are your rapists, it’s the most crushing powerlessness.
You can start by signing the No Authority To Rape petition and use all your social media clout to spread the message.
Whatever the outcome of Oscar Pistorius’ trial, Reeva Steenkamp has become one of South Africa’s shameful statistics. Let our consumption of this media spotlighted case not be in vain, let’s use this opportunity to remind ourselves that we are capable of helping end the war on women in this world.