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Gender commission: Media focus on Pistorius overlooks women abuse

Sapa

The Commission for Gender Equality says reports on the death of Reeva Steenkamp shifts attention from gender-based violence to Oscar Pistorius.

Reeva Steenkamp. (Ice Model Agency)

"The consequence of this style of reporting is to present Ms Steenkamp's death as an unfortunate aberration, rather than part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence in South Africa," the commission's chairperson, Mfanozelwe Shozi, said in a statement on Monday.

"Gender-based violence has reached alarming proportions in our country and such cannot be allowed to go on unabated. Women and children are bearing the brunt of our violent society and Ms Steenkamp's death is no exception."

Olympian and Paralympian Pistorius was arrested on Thursday after his model and law graduate girlfriend Steenkamp was shot dead in his home.

He was charged on Friday with Steenkamp's murder and his bail hearing will begin on Tuesday.

"As the [Commission for Gender Equality], we call upon all the law enforcers involved in the case to ensure that justice is served for both the victim and the alleged perpetrator," said Shozi.

"The death of Ms Steenkamp calls for a renewed vision in finding interventions that are geared ... [towards] curbing the scourge of gender-based violence."

He said some of the "bias[ed] media reporting places undue pressure on the Steenkamp family, as if their loss is nothing as compared to the situation in which the alleged murderer Mr Pistorius finds himself in".

The commission appealed to the public to respect the judicial process.

"We hope that calm prevails," Shozi added.

Shozi and the deputy chairperson Thoko Mpumlwana will be at the Pretoria Magistrate Court to monitor the case.

On Friday, bail proceedings were postponed to allow the defence to prepare for forensic tests to support their argument that it was a "section five" allegation.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that the state would argue for pre-meditated murder.

Pistorius has been held at the Brooklyn police station since Friday and not at a correctional services prison because he needed sufficient time to consult his lawyers.

Steenkamp will be cremated in a private ceremony closed to the public and the media in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. – Sapa

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