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Now Oscar Pistorius is in jail, it's time to protect our women or more will be murdered


The Paralympian with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

The Paralympian with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp


Sian Norris

Sian Norris


The Paralympian with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Now the dust has settled in the South African courtroom. The camera crews and journalists have packed up and headed home. Oscar Pistorius is in a prison cell facing a five-year sentence, but secure in the knowledge that he may only have to serve 10 months.

The sports committees who make the decisions have ruled that he won't be allowed to compete for five years. So at least Reeva Steenkamp's family won't have to hear thousands of fans in Rio cheering the name of their daughter's killer.

Pistorius's story is already being re-written. No longer a case of a man who shot a woman dead, it's now a narrative of the fallen hero. It's a story about his "ordeal". His "fall from grace". We're already hearing about his "ruined life" - always written in the passive tense, so that we don't notice he was the active agent in his own downfall. The fact that Reeva Steenkamp's life is ended remains unspoken.

I believe there's another story to be told, in the wake of this case. And that's the story of male violence against women - both in South Africa, where a woman is killed by her partner every eight hours, in the UK, where a woman is killed by her partner every 3.5 days, and around the world.

During the period of Pistorius's sentencing, approximately 27 women were killed as a result of domestic abuse in South Africa.

Reeva Steenkamp was killed on February 14, 2013. Since her death, approximately 243 women have been killed by suspected male violence in the UK - 118 this year alone.

Some of those women's murders were followed by an inquiry into police failings. The inquiries found, again, that the police could have acted sooner to protect the victim. The inquiries found, again, that calls for help from the victim were ignored.

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Meanwhile, the safety net of refuges that have saved countless women's lives are being attacked and closed. As a result, a snapshot day - recorded by Women's Aid - found that 150 women with 103 children were turned away from refuges.

Almost every time a woman is killed by a man in the UK, the murder is described by the police as an "isolated incident". But when 118 women are killed by men in nine-and-a-half months, these are not "isolated incidents". These murders are connected.

Until we recognise that these are not isolated incidents, that they are part of a pattern of male violence, then we won't be able to prevent these killings.

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