18.2.13

Women, guns, race ... a safe place to sleep



And disability, I must add.

Let me not ask if the media’s treatment of a black star such as Usain Bolt in exactly the circumstances would be different. The news has been full of Oscar Pistorius, the crime, the speculation and the analyses. To begin with, looking through these analyses in the major newspapers there’s a distinct absence of indigenous (and even non-European) South African names and faces.

But that is another much longer discussion.

The news is abuzz with discussions of the nature and extent of violent crime in South Africa, how Pistorius must have felt the need to own a gun and of course, when people have guns accidents happen, the media shows Pistorius as the victim of his environment.

Yet last week we all ranted about violence against women, we reminded ourselves that most crimes against women are committed by people they know, we held up pictures of women who’ve lost their lives to mindless violence.

Don’t get me wrong I would love for Pistorius to have a good reason for shooting his girlfriend four times in one of the most secure housing estates in South Africa, I really would.

Unfortunately this is an excuse that has been used too many times by too many people for it to be credible. Owning guns implies the responsibility for the safety of those around you and shooting someone dead “by accident” is criminal in itself.

At the very least, one's home should be a place of safety. A home shouldn't be a place in which - every time too much alcohol is had, every time tempers are raised or egos offended - we must fear that a gun might be pulled out our lives threatened.