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Women’s groups want ‘no bail’ for Oscar Pistorius

/ Feb 20, 2013 8:54AM / Print / ()

South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appears at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria  to secure bail as he appeared on charges of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. South African prosecutors will argue that Pistorius is guilty of premeditated murder in Steenkamp's death, a charge which could carry a life sentence. (Image: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

As Oscar Pistorius attorneys called for the Olympian and Paralympian athlete be released on bail overnight, a group of women assembled outside the court calling for an end to violence against women in South Africa

Denying allegations that the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was premeditated, Pistorius claimed in an affidavit that he shot her by mistake thinking she was an intruder. The charges of premeditated murder carry a life-sentence in South Africa.

Members of the African National Congress party's Women's League, who protested outside Pretoria Magistrate's Court where proceedings were held, waved placards calling for Pistorius to be denied bail and to "rot in jail".

In a county where a woman is raped every four minutes on average according to stats reported in the Guardian, and one is killed every eight hours by her partner or relative, protesters argue that the Pistorius case represents a national issue and needs to be seriously addressed by the justice system.

"This is not acceptable and our women need to be protected," said Troy Martens, a spokeswoman for the Women's League.

South Africa's Minister of Women, Children and People with Disability Lulu Xingwana joined in the chorus of protesters calling for Pistorius to be denied bail. She told assembled reporters that Pistorius should be treated like any other criminal.

"It does not matter what standing Pistorius has in society," she said. "We want him to be treated like other criminals who have been charged with murder or abuse of women."

The Commission for Gender Equality says reporting of the case, which has shifted attention from the prevalence of gender violence in South Africa to focus on an athlete once regarded as a national hero, is problematic.

"The consequence of this style of reporting is to present Ms Steenkamp's death as an unfortunate aberration, rather than part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence in South Africa," the commission's chairperson, Mfanozelwe Shozi, said in a statement.

"Gender-based violence has reached alarming proportions in our country and cannot be allowed to go on unabated. Women and children are bearing the brunt of our violent society and Ms Steenkamp's death is no exception."

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