Anene. Reeva. Is this the tipping point?

With the Oscar Pistorius case currently grabbing the world's attention Lili Radloff hopes that South African men will finally catch a wake up call.

We were all still reeling from the shock of the horrific rape, mutilation and murder of Anene Booysen when we heard that Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend.

Since the news first broke the response from the public has been massive. Public opinion is still fluctuating wildly with every new incoming report and everyone and their dog has an opinion on Oscar's guilt.

Typically many pseudo-intellectuals have also criticised the near morbid interest the world is showing in the case, crying “media circus”, “vultures”, “privacy” and basically condemning our voracious appetite for every new sordid little detail that comes to light.

I say that’s not fair. Of course we are swept up in this story.

Oscar Pistorius was a national hero – not because of his many gold medals, but because of what he represented. The idea of someone, born without functioning lower legs, who decides to become an Olympic sprinter is the stuff that our wildest flights of fancy are made of. Up until Valentine’s Day Oscar’s story was one of triumph of the human spirit.

Enter Reeva Steenkamp: An intelligent, beautiful woman who was by all accounts lovely, warm-hearted and talented.

And after we all saw the many smiling pictures, video footage and lively tweets of Reeva, she became as real for us as Oscar. A real woman whose life tragically ended before she could live a future that looked very bright.

I am not going to speculate on the case. I can only hope our courts will seek the hard truth and prosecute or pardon accordingly.

I also hope that the death of Reeva, who seemed such an unlikely victim, can help people realise what dire straits our country is in. Much like Anene did. 
 
We are experiencing a systematic, unwavering war on women and women’s bodies. As South African women our chances are 1 out of 3 to be raped or brutally abused, at least once in our lives.

Oscar and Reeva are currently in the spotlight, and I understand why, but since only yesterday I’ve read the following news reports of nameless victims:

•    2nd woman stabbed to death by husband in same neighbourhood.
•    75 year-old crèche owner beaten to death by her own sons.
•    2 year-old girl raped and left for dead by father’s best friend.
•    91 year-old grandmother raped.

And all of this in less than 24 hours. Now tell me we don’t live in a rape culture that condones violence against women.

And none of these crimes committed by the scary monster we're taught to fear by victim blaming. These women weren't accosted in dark alleys by faceless, nameless strangers. Fathers, uncles, boyfriends, husbands, brothers and sons rape.

With all this publicity, I can hope South African men will finally be incensed and if not shamed enough to step up to the plate and realise that not being guilty is simply not good enough anymore.

Hopefully it will not be too late for our granddaughters. Because it is already too late for our daughters.
 

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