Leslie Carol Botha: Does it seem that the more gains women are making – the more rapidly we are being violently attacked and beaten?
The Plague of Violence against Women
February 21, 2013
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 happens around Valentine’s Day, the date that Rising activists marked to bring focus on the crisis of violence against women.
Brutal attacks against girls and women have stirred the world’s conscience with increasing frequency in recent months.
There is no question that many societies are finally becoming fed up with the much-too-common practice of attacking, raping and killing women that goes on in all corners of the world.
The perpetrators of these crimes are invariably cowards, using superior physical force to intimidate or exert power. We have come to know some of their victims.
Remember Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl targeted by the Taliban because she proclaimed that every girl has a right to an education. She has survived and vowed to continue her struggle despite the Taliban’s promise they will try to kill her. The contrast in courage could not be starker.
Then there is Nirbhaya, the New Delhi university student who was gang raped in a bus. She died of her horrific injuries, but her assault moved India and the entire world so deeply that her legacy has fueled the battle to stop this violence.Earlier this month, in a case gruesomely reminiscent of Nirbhaya, 17-year-old Anene Booysen was raped, mutilated and left for dead, in the South African city of Capetown.
Just as Malala has inspired girls to demand an education, Nirbhaya has awakened India to the need for better laws and law enforcement to protect women. And, until the authorities get their act together, fierce Indian girls are learning self-defense. No wonder the Billion Rising celebrations have been such a hit all over India.
* Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is the author of “The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television.”