Reeva Steenkamp Was Not Killed By Love. It Was Domestic Violence.
Today, Oscar Pistorious was found Not Guilty of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. A verdict of culpable homicide was delivered. In the lead up to the verdict's deliverance, Mark Williams-Thomas wrote for British newspaper, The Mirror, stating that he believed Pistorious's version of events. Furthermore, he used his article to comment on Pistorious's love for Reeva.
A recent study found that, in South Africa, an average of three women per day are killed by their intimate partners - One woman every eight hours. The reaction to the murder of Reeva Steenkamp has highlighted how many victims of men's violence against women are treated - not just in South Africa, but globally.
'I'm scared of you sometimes.'
'I can't be attacked by outsiders for dating you and then attacked by you... the one person I need protection from.'
These are the words of Reeva Steenkamp, talking directly to Pistorious, the month before he shot her. Yet yesterday, Judge Masipa declared that these would not be considered in her verdict. As Reeva talked of how she suffered through Pistorious's jealousy, her story was dismissed for that of a far less reliable narrator; Pistorious himself. As Reeva Steenkamp hid in a locked bathroom, the fact that so many women choose the bathroom as a place of refuge as their abuser rages on was ignored by the courts.
Williams-Thomas talks as if his time with Pistorious has provided him with the legal expertise to make a judgement on Pistorious's guilt. But instead, his perception on Pistorious's guilt comes through dated beliefs about domestic violence. And his belief of Pistorious's story comes through a society which frequently places the accused abuser as being more reliable than the victim.
Williams-Thomas raises the question as to why Pistorious would murder Reeva Steenkamp, and in doing so ignores the three women killed in South Africa every day as the result of domestic violence. He further more ignores the fact that 38% of female murder victims were killed by their partner. We are given the reasons that Pistorious chose to murder Reeva, in both her own messages towards him, and in Pistorious's history of violence against women; In 2009, South African Police were called to Pistorious's address following an argument which culminated in Pistorious slamming a door on a woman. The charges against Pistorious in this specific case were reduced, until a month later when they were dropped by prosecutors.
Further more, Pistorious's former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, today spoke of her own experience with Pistorious. Speaking to several sources, she stated how she had to hide his gun on one occasion out of fear. And in speaking to The Mirror, she revealed how she was left with bruises and scars after Pistorious bit and pinched her. This was further continued with details of Pistorious's abuse.
For Williams-Thomas to declare his belief in Pistorious's innocence also ignores the basic facts of the case. At around 3am on February 14th 2013, Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed by a man with a history of domestic violence. Four bullets were fired, and witnesses reported the sound of a woman screaming. To have a man with a history of abuse 'accidentally' kill his girlfriend sounds far too much like a coincidence and raises a lot of questions that remain unanswered. All of these questions, however, would have been answered with a verdict that saw Pistorious convicted of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
Claiming Pistorious killed Reeva as the result of an unfortunate accident serves nothing more than excusing Pistorious of his actions. It buys into the fallacy that abusive men do not intend to kill their partners, and in his defence of Pistorious, Williams-Thomas serves only to excuse the murders of each woman killed by a partner in such a manner.