The worth of a woman's life: not much.

Reeva Steencamp with Oscar Pistorius

Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.


How many times have you got up in the night to go to the loo?

Did you take your phone? Possibly. Two phones? No.

Did you close the door to the toilet? Unlikely.

Did you lock the door? Of course not, why would you? Not if the only other person in the house was your partner and he was asleep.

But Reeva Steenkamp did.

When you get up to go to the bathroom, do you crouch next to the toilet with your hands over your head in a desperate, terrified bid to protect yourself from the person on the other side of the door?

Reeva did. She was cowering on the floor when she was shot to death.

How many times have you sent your partner a text saying, “I am scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me?”

How many times have you told your parents you need to end your relationship and packed your bags to leave your partner? Reeva did all of those things, in the days before that same partner shot her to death.

I think we can all agree that in the well documented description of circumstances leading to Reeva Steenkamp being brutally shot to death by her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, there’s nothing that can be reasonably described as “normal relationship behaviour”.

Instead, it all sounds like the behaviour of a victim of sustained abuse from her partner.


Pistorius’s bullets, fired deliberately through the bathroom door, instantly shattered his girlfriend’s face, her hands and her body. His bullets ended Reeva Steenkamp’s life on Valentine’s Day, right there in the bathroom where she was curled up in fear on the floor.

So what was that life worth? What was the cost of killing Reeva Steenkamp?

Not much, it turns out. A disgracefully paltry amount.

alison pearson

Columnist and author, Alison Pearson

Columnist Allison Pearson (author of the best-selling novel I Don’t Know How She Does It) wrote a compelling topic on this subject this week that has gone viral. She is angry. On behalf of every woman who has been the victim of abuse or homicide at the hands of a partner (in Australia this is one woman every week).

Pearson’s words are heavy with disgust and frustration for the pathetic sentence of 5 years imposed on Pistorius by the South African legal system. He will be released in as little as 10 months.

Pearson wrote: “So now at least we know. We know what a woman’s life is worth….for this casual monstrosity, Oscar Pistorius was handed a five-year term, of which he will serve only one sixth in jail. After that, he will be under house arrest and will be free to see family and friends, to feel the sun on his face, to make love to another blonde.

For Oscar the bereft, Oscar the remorseful, Oscar who was so distressed about losing his soul-mate that he had trouble getting his facts straight, is said to have started a relationship with another model. Well, fancy that.”


Oscar Pistorius trial

“So now at least we know. We know what a woman’s life is worth.”

She points out, incredulous, that Oscar will do the sort of stint in prison you give to a petty thief, “not someone who has stolen a young woman’s life from her.”

“Reeva is just a statistic now. In South Africa, every eight hours a woman is killed by her husband or lover. There is an epidemic of domestic violence. And a black female judge, who declared that Reeva Steenkamp being scared of Oscar Pistorius was part of a “normal relationship” has done nothing to challenge that deadly state of affairs. Shame on her.”

You can read Alison’s column in full here. 

Overnight, Reeva’s mother has revealed even more shocking details that further cement the picture painted by the prosecution in the Pistorius trial of an explosive man with a violent and controlling side who terrorised his girlfriends.

June Steenkamp


June Steenkamp

Speaking to The Times,  June Steenkamp spoke of her anguish at her daughter’s ‘bad luck’ in meeting Pistorius who she described as “volatile” “moody” “gun-toting” and “posessive”. She spoke of her belief that the athlete “would have killed someone sooner or later”.

Reeva’s mother also writes in her soon-to-be-released book about her daughter that Reeva had not yet had sex with Pistorius. “She had confided to me that she hadn’t slept with him. They’d shared a bed, but she was scared to take the relationship to that level. She wouldn’t want to sleep with Oscar if she wasn’t sure. I believe their relationship was coming to an end. In her heart of hearts, she didn’t think it was making either of them happy.”

June Steenkamp also writes that her 29-year-old daughter was about to leave the 27 year old Pistorius. “Her clothes were packed. There is no doubt in our minds: she had decided to leave Oscar that night.”

She continues: “There is no doubt in our minds that something went horribly wrong, something upset her so terribly that she hid behind a locked door with two mobile phones,”

And it was behind that locked door that Reeva died.

The final word goes to Alison Pearson: “On the day that Oscar Pistorius is released from jail, I suggest that anyone who minds that abusers can still get away with murder should wear black. In doing so, we mourn not only the lovely Reeva, but all the other women snuffed out by their boyfriends and husbands. For this, beyond reasonable doubt, is an outrage.”

Reeva, Pistorius and the Judge that finalised his sentence:

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