Gender debate takes back seat while 'blade runner' tops page one (38596)

Feb. 26 (GIN) – As the international press corps spins rafts of copy on accused killer Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius, the much-needed gender debate expected to follow a young Black girl’s rape and murder has sunk to the back pages.

Cabinet ministers were also missing in action at a crucial debate in Parliament this week on gender-based violence.

Ministers Lulu Xingwana of women, children and people with disabilities, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini all failed to show up at the debate, the local Mail & Guardian newspaper reported.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson Debbie Schafer called it symptomatic of a lack of leadership on the issue. Spokesman for the ANC caucus Moloto Mothapo excused the absences telling a reporter that ‘this was not a debate on a portfolio like a budget vote, but a political debate.’

Meanwhile, a rape survivor will have her day in court thanks to pressure by the Treatment Action Coalition that followed up her case lost repeatedly by investigators after it took place in 2010. “Rape in the East Cape is out of control,” an investigating officer acknowledged. “Drastic measures need to be taken to combat this.”

Finally, the release on bail of accused sports icon Oscar Pistorius continues to raise eyebrows as details of his arrest emerge. Essayist Rapule Tabane in the Mail & Guardian observed: “Pistorius is indeed privileged, what with a big-name spin doctor flying out from London to salvage his diminishing reputation, a specially hired pathologist and sympathetic headlines screaming “Prayers for Oscar”.

“His got special treatment, even from the police: they could not bear to put him in the back of a police van… After his arrest, he did not have to spend time in a prison. Instead, he was detained at a police station where, it was reported, family members came to visit and gave him food. I do not need to dwell here on the horrors of our prisons, which thousands of our young men have to endure daily, and which Pistorius was spared.

Pistorius was granted bail of 1 million rand. He was allowed to pay an initial installment of 100,000 rand, with the balance due by March 1. He is next due in court on June 4.