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ANC Women Protest Pistorius' Bail; Domestic Violence


Women protest outside the Pretoria Magistrates court, during the bail application hearing of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, February 19, 2013.

Women protest outside the Pretoria Magistrates court, during the bail application hearing of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, February 19, 2013.

As Oscar Pistorius' attorneys argued for the South African Olympian to be released on bail Tuesday morning, a group from the ruling political party - the African National Congress's Women's League - protested outside, saying violence against women needs to stop in South Africa. Pistorius has been charged with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend last week.

As a mass of international media pushed to get inside the courthouse where Olympian Oscar Pistorius's bail hearing was being held, a group of women sang and chanted outside the courthouse - protesting the murder of women by their partners, domestic abuse and rape.

"So today we are saying , honestly ,we never expect things like this to happen," said Mosy Mathe, with the ANC's Women's League and the head of Youth for Survival, a non-governmental group that works with victims of domestic violence.

"This is a disappointing day. It is a sad day, it's a painful day. For such an allegation to be said against a partner, your best friend, your protector," said Mathe. "In your own home, where are you supposed to hide yourself? … Whatever happened there, we are coming to say we've come on behalf of Reeva. Just to support her and say, even if you are no more, your sisters are standing here to see that justice is carried on."

Pistorius, a double amputee who made history competing in running events at the August Olympics in London, is facing murder charges in the shooting death of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The shooting happened in the early morning hours last Thursday. Police were called after neighbors heard gunshots at Pistorius' home in Pretoria. Steenkamp was found dead, with gunshot wounds to her head and torso.

The Pistorius family says evidence in the case will not support a murder charge.

Attorneys with both his defense and the state are arguing whether or not to set bail in the case. The state is arguing that Pistorius be kept locked up through the duration of the case.

Mathe argues the same.

"We are not saying Oscar is guilty. We are only saying that if such an allegation as serious as this is alleged against you then stay in custody bote [South African slang for brother], until you are proven innocent. Because Reeva is no more to tell her side as the story," said Mathe.

Mathe says this case is emblematic of a national issue, and needs to be seriously addressed by the justice system.

South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world. And the Medical Research Council’s health and gender unit here said this week it will soon release a study showing that female homicide in South Africa is five times higher than the global average.

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