The Rest

Feb 22, 2013

With Pistorius in court, South Africa examines its violent psyche

South Africa is captivated by the Oscar Pistorius murder case. But it should also be examining its predisposition to violence towards women and culture of fear. Qawe Mbalu, a Cape Town-born Australian designer, writes from Pretoria.

In the week prior to Reeva Steenkamp’s death and the subsequent murder charges against Oscar Pistorius, gender activism and anti-rape campaigning were at fever pitch in South Africa.

Reeling from the brutal gang rape, disembowelment and death of teenager Anene Booysen, South Africa found itself yet again taking a hard look at its alarmingly high rate of violence and brutality against women.

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5 thoughts on “With Pistorius in court, South Africa examines its violent psyche

  1. Mark out West

    I read the words of the editor, disgust and revulsion are the only words I can use.
    It seems women, to receive the protection they deserve that not only do they have to overcome male prejudice but those right wing christian women who believe their own righteousness entitles them to deride the victim.

    It’s must be great to have no faults

  2. mikeb

    Before we start talking about willing to “excuse” Pistorius or comparing him to OJ we should acknowledge that he is only accused at this stage – not found guilty. The SA police investigation so far seems to be complete c*ck-up. Nevertheless it is deeply disturbing that a culture of rape & violence seems to pervade SA and it seems many other countries in Africa & elsewhere. Rape as used as a weapon has been a part of warfare and conflict since man walked upright. Patriarchical societies presumably see women as booty and a possession to be taken – something that might have made practical sense thousands of years ago. The only way this thinking can change is for women to be politically & socially equal and beware cultures and religions where women are treated as inferior.

  3. michael crook

    mmm, interesting article. Perhaps however we should alos look inwards a little here, our own record on accepatnce of our current epidemic of domestic violence is not a good look. But, hey, if its not on channel 7 it doesn’t happen, right? Much easier to slag off at other countries isn’t it.

  4. philro

    The tragedy here is that a young female has been brutally killed and because a high profile popular celebrity is involved it will be very difficult for unbiased justice to be carried out.

  5. susansan

    Is unbiassed justice being carried out or is there a gender bias that is such a hyper-object, comprehensively present everywhere, that no-one can see it anymore?

    So when the young woman concerned, an apparently warm, intelligent, thoughtful human being who days before her death protested publicly about the violent and outrageous rape and mutilation of of Anene, is described as ‘a leggy blonde’, what kind of bias is already in play in the media, softening the fact that this is a young, rich, (male) superstar with an alleged history of violence towards his girlfriends, and a man whose most recent gun order to add to his large collection was the weapon used in the mass murder of American pre-schoolers? We all know what leggy blondes let themselves in for by their sheer leggy blondeness. Meanwhile, the press in SA refer to Pistorius almost affectionately as ‘impulsive’ – boys will be boys…

    Perhaps she even deserves this treatment by the merely ‘impulsive’ Pistorius since he is tragically not leggy at all, nor even blond, and has suffered and overcome so much. The extreme violence against women throughout the world is the most disturbing ‘bias’ here to this point in the unfolding story – precisely because it is so deeply ‘naturalised’ and rendered culturally ‘invisible’.

    And it is not a ‘tragedy’ that she was killed, until or unless her death is conclusively proved to have been utterly accidental, that Pistorius genuinely thought that a (black) intruder had very likely infiltrated the security compound in which he lives and his locked bathroom as well, and was being so bold as to use his toilet at that moment.

    Rather than ‘tragedy’ it may well prove to be (‘just’) one more outrage against human beings who happen to be born female, one that should burn people’s hearts, men and women alike. One more among the millions each week, this one a relatively high-profile white woman. Most of the others will never even make the press but sink from sight without causing the slightest ripple or demur.

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