Sudden Disruption of Glory
by oliviahollant on February 28, 2013 - 10:17am
Sudden Disruption of Glory
The recent news stories of a Paralympics athlete who shot his girlfriend a caught my attention and launched me into a research on the topic of domestic violence in South Africa. In fact, two interesting journal articles from BBC News and The Observer brought me comprehend the mass of violence against women in the African country. I then completed my research with an interesting academic journal entitled "The Domestic Violence Epidemic In South Africa: Legal And Practical Remedies”, by Charlotte Bendall.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14th2013, many hearts were broken after hearing the sad story of model Reeva Steenkamp’s murder. The article entitled “Oscar Pistorius 'shoots girlfriend' ” by Pumza Fihlani describing the events was posted on BBC News the day of the fatal incident. Steenkamp was killed by her 26 year old South African boyfriend Oscar Pistorius, well known for being the first double amputated man to run in the Olympics. The police asserted that the 30 year old woman was shot in his home, an address where incidents had previously taken place. Indeed, the Olympic athlete icon, also known as ‘blade runner’, was seen as a living ledged since he had proved to the world proof that victory is possible even with a disability. In her article, the author states that South Africa, where residents keep weapons in their homes to protect themselves from intruders, is among the countries with the world’s highest crime rates.
In the same week, allegations made against the former athlete icon have brought certain South Africans to reflect on the issue of domestic abuse in their country. In fact, this was the case for Alex Duval Smith author of “South Africa's macho society, where attacks on women are the norm”, who on February 17th2013 posted an interesting article on The Observer analyzing the problem of domestic abuse South Africa. In the article, Smith discusses the problem by restating the words of Rachel Jewkes of the South African Research Council: “Black South African men are expected to prove their manliness by carrying knives and having lots of girlfriends. White Afrikaners like Pistorius do not need to have several girlfriends. But his love of guns speaks to the same hunger to prove his masculinity in the South African context." Additionally, to emphasize the importance of the problem, Smith also presents police statistics on the issue stating that between 2011 and 2002 there were 15,609 murders and 64,500 reported rapes in his country. Then, more alarming numbers followed; “Household surveys by the MRC have found that 40% of men have hit their partner and one in four men have raped a woman. Three-quarters of men who admit to having raped women say they did so first as teenagers. The MRC found that, while a quarter of women had been raped, just 2% of those raped by a partner reported the incident to police.” Moreover, many aspects of the South African society have resulted in causing these high violence rates are stated in Smith’s article. According to experts, historical culture, the wealth gap and unequal relationship between both genders that have made men feel week, the high rate of male unemployment and the lack of childcare that has caused the neglecting of boys.
To get more information on the topic of domestic violence in South Africa, I researched an academic journal related to women’s studies, describing the issue in dept. In fact, women’s studies can be defined as “The multidisciplinary study of the social status and societal contributions of women and the relationship between power and gender.”(Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster, 2013) The scholarly journal described different solutions taken by the police and South African authorities to fight the issue and domestic violence under the South African law is specified: “Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right to be free from violence from either public or private sources.” (Bendall, 2010) In addition, reforms taken by the government to prevent violence against women in the South African society, as well as state and non-state institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), that have raised awareness and provided help to victims are also described in the journal.
Finally, stories like the one of young model Reeva Steenkamp can happen anywhere around the world, though I believe that in South Africa change is needed since the rates of domestic violence towards women are particularly high. Indeed, the main causes of this issue are identified and the government and other organisms are working to fight the problem and find solutions. Although certain individuals are dedicated to amelioration the situation South African women are facing, will that be enough to change the historical culture of “might is right” of the South African men?
To read more about the news story:
BENDALL, CHARLOTTE. "The Domestic Violence Epidemic In South Africa: Legal And Practical Remedies." Women's Studies 39.2 (2010): 100-118. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.
"Women's studies - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary." Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/women's%20studies>.