The shame of a nation

I have been trying to figure out for a while now why this Oscar story bugs me so much. There are the obvious things but it felt like there was more bothering me.

Before this incident, and even now, my feelings about him were neither here nor there. I read the Olympic stories but they never really touched me in any way. He didn’t endear himself to me like someone like Chad LeClos had. So for me he was just one of our celebrities. So I never felt deeply hurt like or let down like a lot of people have felt.

What bothered me most is the shame he has bought on our nation by highlighting what an aggressive nation we are and how terribly we treat our women.

NO I am not blaming him for the horrendous rapes and abuses that have happened to women he doesn’t know. I am saying this story has turned this massive bright spotlight on us and what that light is highlighting is not pretty at all. It is shameful.

Every news story has various stats on how many women are killed per month by their partner (I think it was 2000) and how many women will be abused by a partner – I think it was either 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 – so basically if I get 6 comments on this post that means 2 of you have been or will be abused!

CNN were running a story on abusive relationships and women while I was at gym – I didn’t listen to it but Oscar and Reeva’s face where in every shot.

What he has now done is show the world that we do not know how to treat our women, that our incidents of rape are high, domestic violence is rife and in general we like to deal with things aggressively.

Gareth Cliff said something the week before last during that terrible gang rape in the Cape that I totally agree with. We can not blame the government for this. Domestic abuse is not caused by the government and we should not expect them to control it either. I mean HOW could the government have stopped the rape? Or the murder? All the alleged perpetrators knew the consequences but did it anyway so the whole argument of tougher sentences falls a little flat. The police can’t be in our homes, they can’t be watching what men do, they can’t be telling women what behaviour to accept and what not to.

This is our problem as a nation. We need to fix it!

When a child is disrespectful to an adult, they need to be called on it and reprimanded. When a teenage boy swears at his girlfriend there needs to be consequences. When your best friend is being beaten black and blue and keeps telling you to not get involved, you need to risk the friendship and get involved until she is out of that situation.

Wearing black is great, educating is great but we need to all start doing something that will change the way the world now sees us.

I honestly am not interested in what happens with this trial – I hope for the Steenkamp family they get the closure they need and that Oscar is able to find peace with whatever happened that night.

Right now I am not very proudly South African.

11 thoughts on “The shame of a nation

  1. A friend approached me at a kids party yesterday and said, “Oh my gosh what is going ON in SA right now?” – and for a second I was completely blank, then I literally had to say to her, “Look, I read the SA news everyday, so you’re going to need to be more specific!” at which point she said she was talking about the Pistorius thing. You are so *very* right about it suddenly shining a spotlight on the country. *But* that can also be a good thing. Maybe people will stop living with their heads in the sand, and DO something. It’s all good and well *thinking* that everything is ok, when it so clearly is not. The fact that everyone suddenly knows about the shocking crime stats in SA, *can* work out to be a good thing (probably not for tourism) for the people who live there. Finally word is getting out exactly what it’s like to live there, and what ordinary people are going through. Don’t take it personally, have hope. As for what Gareth Cliff said, I’m in two minds, yes parents should reprimand their kids etc etc, but at the end of the day, when paying themselves (the govt) massive salaries is more important than rewarding and training a proper police force ( I can’t tell you how many people email me pictures of fat lazy cops sleeping behind their desks) then they have to bear some of the burden. Here in the UK the police AND govt take massive flack when something goes wrong, and people are held accountable. It’s the same in the US, a high ranking politician gets accused of misconduct, or has an affair, and they are *shunned* their careers are OVER. In SA, ‘mud’ just doesn’t seem to stick. Imagine Barack Obama being acquitted of rape early in his first term of presidency – ? He would have been impeached, and disappeared into oblivion years ago…

    • Oh absolutely! There is no accountability at the top, and therefore none at the bottom. The mindset is, “If it’s okay for them, why not me?”
      As for discipline… I may have to make a post on that one because I’ve got a whole lot of opinion that wants an outlet.

  2. hi

    i read ur blog often, but this warranted a response.
    likewise i did not feel any particular greatness when Oscar did SA proud, as i do not feel hurt when he is in the spotlight for this crime.

    Yes the Govt might not be able to control the rapes/murders etc, but maybe if there was a greater police presence and action, it would decrease tha stats somewhat, likewise if the Govt has a proper justice system in place then people would not feel free to rape/murder knowing that its so easy to get away with the crime.

    in short the Govt can play a role in imho

  3. oh man, let’s not get started!

    I know, I am getting lots of questioning emials from my lovely American friends, all on the violence. And I’ve not answered yet because this incident is tarnishing the shiny image I have and portray of SA!!!

    BTW it’s 1 in 3 – I was driving and I remember gasping at that stat :)

  4. Well written Laura. At the mission we work with men, women and children that come about of all the varied forms of abuse. It is heartbreaking and it takes many years before they walk in wholeness again. I did not wear black on Friday. That does not mean I have my head in the sand. On Friday I saw people rip each other apart for the sake of the “cause” (wearing black) and it broke my heart that “the cause” becomes more important than relationships. We need a whole lot more love in this country of ours. Pure love that doesn’t kill, hurt and rape.

  5. Great post. I agree 100%. It DOES start at home and within the community. I have to say that I REALLY admire disabled people who excel at sport. More so than able-bodied people. As an able-bodied person even I can’t run/swim that fast.
    What angers me is that people are so caught up in the Oscar theatrics and that it seems to be all about HIM. They seem to forget that someone actually died. Someone’s child. Someone’s BFF. Someone’s sister.
    I think that everyone already knows the level of violence towards women (and men) in this country. Many a tourist will tell you that they are made aware of the level of violent crime in SA. We ARE listed on Interpol as the rape capital of the world and Charlize even came to make an advert about it. This is a well-known fact so no, I wouldn’t give Oscar any credit for that.
    I think that the only reason why this gets the coverage that it does is because of his very high overseas profile.
    Also, I do agree to an extent with Kajol. Yes, we need to work on this within our community but the government DOES need to get it’s act together wrt things like police presence, proper training in dealing with victims, adequate sentencing and basic things like compiling evidence properly that won’t get “lost” or whatever.

  6. Great post – I’m so disillusioned by EVERYTHING! Hard to be proudly South African! I’m more afraid of what will become the “norm” by the time my children are my age! I agree that we need to be raising our kids correctly, but I do think that the government does play a part in helping to restore the pride of the nation.

  7. The only way this changes is when boys see their male role models treating their moms with respect. I am reminded of the post you did recently – can’t remember the details but something along the lines of Cameron writing about how David treats you so well.

    That is how boys learn. The problem can only be treated when there are fewer single parent homes and boys learn from their male role models that aggression is unacceptable.

    This is not something that is fixed overnight or even 10 years this is going to take generations to weed out of our society.

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