The front page of today’s (15 February) the Sowetan blazes “golden boy loses shine.” At first glance the reader might be at a loss about what this headline really means. In the text there is a reference to domestic violence, but it is only upon close inspection of the page – in the caption under a picture of a non-descript hooded man – that one is informed that Oscar Pistorius has been arrested in connection with the murder of his girlfriend.
You may legitimately ask what my issue with this cover is. It seems to me that what is wrong with this cover, is that by referring to Pistorius’ fall from grace, the reader is led into thinking that this demise is the actual tragedy of the story. Why would this be important when the real tragedy is that yet another woman died at the hands of a man. Are we, the southern African readers and public, so desensitised to the murder of a woman that golden boy losing his shine is the more important message? I read somewhere that the number of women who die because of gender-based violence surpasses the combined number of women who die of cancer, car accidents, malaria and wars. This, that yet another woman lost her life (“allegedly”) at the hands of a partner, should have been the real headline, not golden boy’s downfall. In an ideal world, the next headline should have been about the outrage that this evoked. Sadly, Bertold Brecht sometime ago stated that “the first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.”
This seems to be the pattern in the case of women being killed as well.