Ah everyone is up in arms over the Dewani verdict handed down today. Again South Africa is a lousy country. Our Judicial system a joke. Our policing not good enough. Yada yada yada... same old same old... hmmmm
First off I have no opinion on the Dewani case. I didn't follow it in the run up to trial nor have I followed the trial itself. For the 16 days of Activism campaign if he is guilty it truly is a blow that he has walked out of court a free man today. His actions will now speak for themselves. Will he make a miraculous recovery from his depression and PTSD and return to his life as it was before his marriage or will he still continue to struggle on a day to day basis. Therein will lie your answer.
As for Oscar Pistorius - well he lost his temper. He picked up his gun and he pumped 4 bullets into a confined area giving whoever was in there no hope in hell of getting out alive. The actions of a reasonable man? Most definitely not. However unless the Prosecutors can get the verdict and sentence overturned and a tougher one handed down he's likely to be out early in 2015, free to move on with his life as well.
Anni & Reeva will never have that luxury.
But that is not my point of this piece.
Pistorius & Dewani got media attention of unprecedented proportions purely because of their money and/or fame. Had they been ordinary Joes on the streets of SA we would never have heard of these cases. Never. These were essentially domestic violence cases with a bad ending. And they only got public attention due to money and high profile people.
I've sat in the queue at Domestic Violence at my local Magistrate Court. I must have gone back 4 or 5 times to get various paperwork sorted out and not ONCE did I see the same women sitting in that queue. Every time it was different faces. Terrified faces. Beaten down faces. Faces which held no hope - not even in the process of sitting in that queue. I know first hand how useless that process is. How as a woman the odds are so stacked against you. I had to sit almost an entire Sunday afternoon in my local Police Station waiting for assistance to get the Order served. I was the one being threatened. My life was the one at risk. Yet I was treated with little more than contempt. A waste of time. And the worst of it was is that the actual hardcore abuse was over 12 years ago... this was just taking steps against continue 'threats'. I wasn't even one of those women living in that situation daily and having to still try and get out. I'd been out for years.
But tell me if I had been taken out would there have been crowds at the court baying for blood? Would there have been disgust had he walked away from prosecution (which he would have). Would you all have been disgusted at the actions of the police and the courts and the whole entire system? Would there have been an outcry over the lack of justice for me? If I was lucky the story would have made the little weekly local paper and maybe the daily paper but certainly no further than that. My name may or may not have been mentioned but even if it was it would as soon as have been forgotten. The story would not have been 'juicy' enough. Just another domestic violence case. One of thousands.
You all sit in your cosy homes and you pass judgement yet none of you are actually out there doing something about it either. I know right now I'm not. I've had a long road to walk and I'm coming through the final stages of recovery. I will find a way to help. As an abused women it is hard to go and sit in the middle of that situation and not be swamped with all the emotions that go with it so I have to find a way to be proactive through another avenue. Sadly I have to protect my own vulnerable emotional state. That is simply the way it is, but I can still find a way to help. And so should you.
How many of you even know that the 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Children is currently on the go? How many have read literature? Attended any events? Tried to find a way to participate. The stats are clear. On average 2000 women and children are affected by domestic abuse EVERY DAY in South Africa. That could one day be your daughter, or grandchildren. Your mother, sister, aunt. Your best friend. You colleague.
Yes the big cases are important because it gets the message to millions and it helps people understand the process but people have got to stop worrying about popular media and start worrying about their local communities. Do something at grassroots level. That is the only way we will ever cultivate a society in which everybody can live safely.
If you have such a strong opinion on the subject use it constructively to bring about change. Don't just watch Dewani get on that plane and return to the UK, and Pistorius come out of jail to continue his life and shrug your shoulders and say 'Oh well - come to SA - the country where you can get away with murder...'. If you do nothing you are in fact allowing it as well and are as much to blame as the poor Judicial system and bad policing.
Think about that.....