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:


Work Cited

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. <'s%20studies>.


I strongly agree that the laws on abuse against women should be changed because the men in South Africa are too caught up in the “might is right” attitude. If somehow this mindset can be changed, then there would be less violence against women obviously but it would be hard for the South African government to convince these men to change since it has been a part of their culture for a long time. This directly relates to cultural relativism because it is demonstrated that men must be strong and dominant in their culture. So the difficult task at hand is to change something that has been placed into a culture, can it be done?


Even if those countries are struggling with violence and troubled behaviors, there are some bright sides. Many feminist groups and organizations are looking into the issue, as you have mentioned. There are bad conditions in those countries right now, but hopefully, all donations and help will ameliorate the environment. Take a look at this article, published on CNN, written by Raphael Romo, on January 18th, 2013, “Guatemalans shocked by girls' violent deaths”. Two young girls have been asphyxiated to death, and no one has come to claim the bodies. Unfortunately, only 4% of all homicides end with convictions. There too, help is given by other countries. This article is relevant to prove how it is not enough, how too many countries are in the same situation and where more than help should be sent out. Maybe more education could be helpful and if more of the citizens are educated, maybe that would lessen the levels of homicides, as they would get better remunerated jobs, and would be more occupied, giving them less time to harm others. Everything for world peace.

Your article was really helpful to understand the issue of violence against women in South Africa, but also in other countries. Domestic violence against women is widespread and occurs in other countries as well, in particular in underdeveloped countries. An article from Al Jazeera called “Behind the global rape epidemic” discusses the same issue, in particular rape problems in India. It explains the reasons behind the deadly rapes occurring in Indian. The main reason given is women getting more involved in the public sphere and becoming more independent. Because they do not rely on men as much as before, men are facing a masculinity crisis. In consequence, they need to show their masculinity through other means than making a living for their family. Thus, to show their masculinity, they abuse women and use violence. The same reason is given in your article; this shows that the present issue is widespread and is caused by the same factor.

The link:


In today's society it’s easy to overlook these mass issues because of the closed mindedness of today's youth, including myself. But by reading this it has really opened my mind to realizing how bad domestic violence against women is in other countries such as Africa. I also strongly believe that the laws against these acts should be much harsher than they are.