#RIPSamanthaMedland

This post is a different one for me.

Yesterday, someone retweeted a news story which angered me. This Is Sussex had written about a man, arrested on suspiscion of murdering his wife, and his concerns over their marriage in the lead up to her murder on February 17th. Shortly after I began working on the piece relating to the article, chastising This Is Sussex for placing empathy with the suspect, I found out that the victim in the murder, Samantha Medland, was a close friend of  friend of mine.

It was just last week I blogged about the importance of remembering the victims of male violence, with relation to the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. It seems that Samantha, however, is at no risk of being forgotten, thanks to the loving friends and family she had around her. This won’t be the same type of post as to what you may expect from me; it doesn’t feel right when I know a friend I care about is in mourning. Instead, I wish to tell you that there is currently a fund running to help raise money for Sam’s aftercare and funeral. Donations can be made, via paypal to tblackman2014@yahoo.co.uk

A link to a memorial page run in Sam’s memory can be found here, on Facebook. 

RIP Samantha. We Will Not Forget.

RIP Sam Medland

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#HerNameWasReevaSteenkamp; This is a Story Of Male Violence – Let’s Remember The Victim

This morning, a South African friend broke the news of Reeva Steenkamp’s death. At the time, an idea was floating around Facebook that her killer, Oscar Pistorious, had mistaken Reeva for a burglar. The two were in a relationship, and over the past few hours, details of the abuse Reeva endured at Pistorious’ hands have begun to surface. After posting a link to my own facebook profile, a friend informed me that Pistourious had shot Reeva four times. It was becoming clear that this was no accident.

As I headed over to twitter this evening, I was disappointed to see Pistorious’ name trending, alongside jokes. This is the last time I’ll use his name in this post.

See, Reeva Steenkamp should be the name on everyone’s lips. But her name was missing from the trending topics. Hell, I saw tweets referencing her death that failed to even mention the fact a woman had been killed by male violence, let alone Reeva’s name. She’s been dead less than 24 hours, and the patriarchy is already erasing her. Fancy that, eh… This would be the same patriarchy which failed to mention Andrea Johnson by name when reporting how her husband had murdered her before killing himself. The same patriarchy which sees women silenced, and ignored when they try to speak out against men’s violence against women. The same patriarchy which sees the murder of the prostituted class ignored, and women blamed for their own murders. Women are not allowed to live a life free of blame; the patriarchy won’t allow it.

We’ve heard how Reeva was an FHM model. The fact she was a law graduate was ignored. The fact she spoke out against violence against women has been ignored. Even in her death, Reeva has been objectified. Googling “Reeva Steenkamp” in the news section of Google relays, at present, 2,350 results. Images added to the search engine database, following her death, included an FHM cover, as well as various photos of Reeva in a bikini. Googling her killer’s name leaves us with 201,000 news results, although I’m unable to determine how many of these were added today. All I can say for certain is that I got 27 pages in to the results, and gave up.

We do not need to know Reeva was a model to feel saddened by her death. But objectifying her following her death remains a huge kick to the teeth. We need to remember her name, and we need to keep Reeva’s name at the forefront of our minds. It is time we stopped glorifying men who kill women, no matter how unintentionally we do so. Our conversation should not erase the victims of men’s violence against women, but instead, they should become the forefront of our discussion. We cannot end violence against women when the women killed by male violence are forgotten.

Her name was Reeva Steenkamp. And we must not forget that.

*Edit: Google is now displaying more results for Reeva in the news. The stats above were what I found at 23:01 on 14/2/2013

#IBelieveHer: In Which The Daily Mail Forgets They’re Talking About A Nine Year Old Rape Survivor…

There are certain elements that I feel should be missing from a report on a survivor of child rape. Sadly, today, I was alerted to an article in the Daily Mail which contained all of these things;

  • DNA tests are being carried to determine who real father is – amid claims it is either her boyfriend, 15, or even her stepfather

Romanticising abuse. Not something you’d associate the Daily Mail with, right? I hope you can hear the sarcasm dripping out of your computers right now, because the Mail has become, to me, synonymous with misogyny, victim blaming, and romanticising abuse.

See, a 15 year old, who is having sex with a nine year old, is not her “boyfriend”. He is a rapist. But calling him her boyfriend romanticises the abuse, puts them on an equal footing and momentarily takes the lens off the issue at hand; Here is a nine year old girl who has been raped, and as a result, fell pregnant. Calling her rapist “her boyfriend” puts them, momentarily in the readers mind, on an equal footing.

The Mail continues, mentioning a report in a local newspaper which states that Dafne* could have been raped multiple times over several times, “but claimed it was never violent.” Rape IS violence, regardless of whether additional violence is used. To claim a rape was never violent minimises the experience of the survivor, and in Dafne’s case, ignores the fact that after the violence of rape, this girl had to go through the additional violence of an underage pregnancy and an underage childbirth.

Dafne has since been sterilised, showing yet again how she’s been failed by Mexican authorities. A nine year old girl, who has been raped and made to carry that fetus to term does not need sterilising. She needs protecting. And when it comes to the British Press, it serves no one well to talk of child rapists as “the boyfriend” of the survivor of child rape.