This week, Reeva Steenkamp, South African model and reality TV star, became another statistic at the hands of her paralympian boyfriend Oscar Pistorius. While the jury is out regarding his guilt, the fact remains, a violent crime has been committed and the life of a woman in her prime with dreams that go unfulfilled has been tragically taken. The advent of the “Black Friday” initiative, uniting South Africans against the abuse and rape of women and children, following the announcement of South Africa being the “rape capital of the world”, was shadowed under the influx of “Oscar” jokes that did the rounds after the untimely death of Reeva.
I am saddened. I mourn for the fallen hero who was at the pinnacle of his career. I mourn for the family who laments and prepares to bury their daughter. I mourn for a nation whose efforts at creating awareness pale in comparison to the number of victims who fall prey to these acts of violence – accidental or otherwise.
The message is clear to me.
As a mother I have an obligation to impart to my young son the importance of respecting women. I will enforce communication that would allow him to voice his feelings without fear of judgement. I will teach him that it is okay for a boy to cry. I will not diminish or obliterate his sense of pride or self-confidence that would make him want to demand control over a woman when he is older. I will love him in spite of himself and because of his shortcomings and he will never feel insecure or overwhelmed to resort to violent behaviour.
I will empower my daughter to never accept anything less than the utmost respect her own step father afforded her. I will teach her to love herself enough to walk away from any relationship that breaks her spirit. I will love her enough so that she accepts her failures and regards it as a stepping stone to being better and doing better.
I will live my convictions because I know, children learn what they live.