opinion

Oscar Pistorius' sentence might be inadequate, but it's also not a surprise.

Two weeks ago the nation talked about long-time football president Eddie McGuire and whether or not his comments about drowning Caroline Wilson were just a joke or symptomatic of a far bigger problem.

Today we saw former Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius sentenced to just six years for the murder of his former partner Reeva Steenkamp.

And while it would be easy to write the two off as completely different situations, the truth is that they have two key similarities that link them.

Oscar Pistorius sentenced in court. Source: Getty. 

They are the same similarities that allowed Wayne Carey to beat his wife, glass his girlfriend, physically assault a female police officer and still maintain a high profile role as a television presenter for one of Australia's major networks.

They are the same similarities that allowed NFL player Phillip Merling to play professional football at the top level for a further five years after he beat his pregnant girlfriend.

And the rules these people need to follow to be eligible are simple: just be male, an elite athlete and rich. From there, the public adoration and high paid lawyers will take care of everything else.

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Reeva Steenkamp with Oscar Pistorius. Source: Getty.

Everything we know about domestic violence tells us that it operates on a spectrum of which there are two ends. Obviously, murder sits at one far end, whereas comments meant simply as "jokes" sit at the other. But just because they're in different places doesn't mean they're not still on the same spectrum or bearing a relation to one another.

Irrespective of where it sits, both send a clear message. And that is that the rules are different when you're up there at the top. And that's true for most people with money and fame behind them, not just athletes. The difference is, there are almost no female athletes that are privy to the level of fame or volumes of money that men are.

The spaces we spend our time filling with excuses and arguments around these acts are the spaces they operate in. And we willingly give them that.

Reeva Steenkamp with Oscar Pistorius. Source: Getty.

Despite the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa being 15 years, Pistorius has received just six.

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Reeva Steenkamp was murdered while screaming in fear and unable to escape. She was murdered by a man who had a known history of violent behaviour towards his partners and a fascination with guns. She was murdered by a man that friends described as controlling, aggressive and manipulative.

She was murdered by a man who scolded her on a number of occasions over her behaviour, saying that acting outside of the boundaries he had set for her may in some way jeopardise his sponsorships and ability to make money.

So if you want to look at serving justice, look at taking away the things he truly cares about.

Reeva Steenkamp. Source: Getty. 

Judge Thokozile Masipa is wrong is saying that a long-term sentence would not serve justice. Stripping Pistorius of his power over others for as long as legally possible would have been the only justice there is.

By taking away the lucrative deals, television opportunities, throngs of photographers, sponsorships and the public adoration from these people is to take away the very set of rules that allows them to continue to operate untouched. It's only when those things are removed that they are no longer enabled and no longer sitting outside of the rule book of everyone else.

Creating a new minimum sentence - part of which has been served in the privacy of his relative's mansion - just perpetuates the problem.

I understand why people don't want to connect the dots and see the links of the spectrum. Why it would be so easy to hate Oscar Pistorius and think of this only as an isolated incident. But it just so obviously isn't and we can't keep pretending that it is anymore.