Saturday, November 25, 2017

Women's Lives Matter

Reeva Steenkamp (30) shot to death by her boyfriend (SA)
Sophie Elliot (22) stabbed to death by her boyfriend (NZ)
Emily Longely (17) strangled to death by her boyfriend (UK)
The men who killed these young women, their girlfriends at the time, all claimed that it wasn't their fault; two said it was the woman's fault and one said he mistook his victim for an intruder.

The law courts in each country let the killers - dressed smartly in suit and tie - have their say, at length, providing a legal framework in which their excuses and victim-blaming could be heard, and in two of the cases the courts considered the women's actions mitigated the seriousness of the killings. 

In one case the killer was given the benefit of the doubt and believed, with the female judge handing down a substantially reduced sentence than the minimum for murder.  After serving just ten months in prison that woman-killer was released on home detention.

But this week the Supreme Court doubled his sentence duration to the minimum 15 years for murder, of which he will have to serve at least half, so seven and a half years.

This still seems too short for pre-meditated murder and an elaborately fabricated non-guilty plea, but it is something more than nothing that the previous, much shorter sentence was overturned four years on. Indeed it sends the message that this year, in one country at least, and I think in many other countries too, women's lives are being seen to matter more than they used to just a few years ago.

Having studied male partner violence for many years and paid attention to the public trials of men who kill their female partners - most of which cases are never made public - I am quietly optimistic that the world is at long last waking up to believing the radical, apparently uncomfortable and difficult for many truth that women's lives matter as much as men's do.   


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