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Saturday 13 September 2014

Blood on the ground: Why the Pistorius verdict is terrifying

So this week I got to watch a travesty of justice. Fun!

After  months of watching Oscar Pistorius revert to the age of about 6 in the courtroom - the puking, wailing, and sticking his fingers in his ears was particularly telling - the judge did the equivalent of giving him a time-out while patting him on the head. Kootchey kootchey koo, sweetums.

His behaviour in court annoyed me. This is what happens when you shoot a living, breathing human being, you ass. They bleed and die, and it's not pretty.
Stuffing your fingers in your ears doesn't change what you did. Puking sure as hell doesn't bring a dead girl back. Let's not even talk about the made for t.v. movie acting abilities. Crying and snivelling made it seem he was a hell of a lot more sorry about being in court - why didn't the cops just accept his story that night?
But hey - you can say you were terrified! You can say you thought it was intruder! (One that stopped for a potty break before charging into your room to slaughter you? Really? I'm not an expert, but that doesn't seem like normal procedure for a home invasion.)

Only an idiot fires repeatedly through a door when they can't see the target. An idiot, or a man raging about something who thought he'd teach his girlfriend a lesson. Maybe the intention was to frighten. Maybe the man should never have been given a gun license. We simply don't know.

You have to wonder what the current girlfriend thought of all of this. 18 is pretty impressionable, so the odds are he was given a soothing back-rub and a cold beer to soothe his nerves afterwards.

There's a chance he'll get a custodial sentence, but I'm not holding my breath on this one. The Telegraph headline on Friday read in part: "Shattered Oscar leaves court." What it should have read was "Destroyed Steenkamp family loses hope in justice."

In a country where it seems killing women is becoming a national fucking sport, this sentence is terrifying. Wife burnt the roast? Shoot her, and tell the world you thought it was a burglar. Girlfriend talks back? Shoot her. Tell the cops you thought someone was breaking in. Hell, if you set it up right, (i.e: not in a frigging toilet without the space to swing a cat) you'll probably get away with it. You might even get a bloody book deal.

This case made headlines because both Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorious were national figures. But look: a woman in South Africa is murdered by her partner on average every 8 hours. That's a slight improvement; this link cites a study that shows in 2004 it was every 6 hours. Sexual offence cases in 2012/2013 sit at 66 387. That's not a typo. Now think about the fact that less than half of sexual attacks are reported.

In this respect at least, South Africa is a microcosm of a much larger global disease, one that declares females as inferior, incompetent, and terrifying to certain males. We need to teach our kids that it is unacceptable to be a punching bag, and completely repulsive to use your partner as one. We need to teach them that using a weapon against another living being results in horror.
Until education eliminates that view point, until judgements are made that slaughtering your girlfriend in a toilet is murder, that raping a woman is abominable, that beating the ever loving crap out of a woman because you can is assault, there will be more death.
More blood on the ground. More families weeping over raw earth as coffins are lowered.