Members of the ANC Women’s League protest outside the court in Pretoria. Photo: Getty
Two events have headlined our news this week and both were about men murdering women and children.
And both events were spoken about and enacted from a male, patriarchal voice.
This week Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of murdering his partner, Reeva Steenkamp, who he killed.
The Judge believed Oscar’s account of being afraid of an intruder.
The judge believed his account, although there was no other evidence to support his claim.
She did not believe in Reeva Steenkamp’s fear, despite evidence that she had reason to be afraid.
“The man she was scared of caused her death. Steenkamp was, ultimately, right to be afraid.”
“His fears count, hers are dismissed.” (Sarah Ditum)
The legal system’s voice is that of male patriarchy.
The second event was the murder of Kim Hunt and her three children Fletcher, Mia and Phoebe Hunt by Geoff Hunt who then committed suicide.
And here the media represents the male voice.
We find news reports sympathising with the father –
“You couldn’t get a better bloke. The most gentle, considerate bloke… a pillar of society.”
Nina Funnell nails it when she says:
“If a man walked into a classroom, pulled out a gun and shot three children and a teacher, before turning the gun on himself, we’d call it a massacre, and we’d call him a vicious murderer.
Yet when a man walks into his own home and shoots his three children and his wife before turning the gun on himself, he’s remembered in the press as a loving family man who was under some strain.”
Silences the voices of victims of male violence – the voices of women and children.
Nina Funnell correctly writes that the media depiction of male violence against women and children both reframes and minimises domestic violence.
It treats each event as separate and discrete, as one tragic event.
But we know that domestic violence and the murder of women and children by their male partners is a repeated pattern in our society.
Every year violence against women is the single largest contributor to the public health burden of illness, injury and premature death for women aged 15-45.