On the same day that thousands of women stood up to participate in One Billion Rising, billed as the largest mass action to stop violence against women and girls, the sad news came from South Africa that yet another woman was killed.
The reason we took notice of 30-year-old Reeva Steenkamp’s death among so many others killed every day is the shocking news that the man charged with killing her, her boyfriend, is none other than Oscar Pistorius, the athlete known as “Blade Runner,” a double amputee whose Olympic feats on prosthetic carbon fiber legs made him an international superstar.
We don’t know what the investigation will uncover, but Steenkamp’s life is now lost. Coincidentally, the Pistorius case happened around Valentine’s Day, the date that Rising activists marked to bring focus on the crisis of violence against women.
The 30-year-old model had been planning a valentines day surprise for her new boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, a man she had described to local newspapers as “impeccable” and “thoughtful” in the gifts he bought her.
Her relationship with the Olympics hero had further raised her profile in South Africa where she was already known for featuring on a mens magazine list of the 100 sexiest women. At the time of her death the blonde model had been promoting a celebrity reality television show she had appeared in alongside the rapper AKA, filmed late last year in Jamaica.
During her last weekend she reacted to the shocking death of Anene Booysen on February 1, a 17-year-old gang-raped, murdered and mutilated at a construction site in Bredasdorp, a rural town close to Cape Town.
Next to a stark cartoon image of a woman screaming with a hand over her mouth she wrote on her Instagram account: ‘I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals in SA. RIP Anene Booysen. #rape #crime #sayNO.
The 30-year-old was due to speak at a local university on the day of her alleged murder about the empowerment of women.
Pistorius’ South Africa, a country with a storied history in the fight for racial equality, has a disturbing record of violence against women.Facing a minimum life sentence if convicted, his defence will be fought both in court and in the media after former Sun editor, Stuart Higgins, flew in to represent him. The public relations troubleshooter, who left the British tabloid in 1998, represented the 26-year-old during the London Olympics and Paralympics. According to friends of the athlete, his lawyers will attempt to argue the killing was a tragic case of mistaken identity, with the track star thinking there had been a break-in at his home in a heavily guarded security estate on the outskirts of the capital, Pretoria.
Next Page: A man, a woman and a Gun