A little over a year ago I wrote a piece here on Bea about Reeva Steenkamp’s murder: Disability and the Reeva Steenkamp Murder. That was about the fact that paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius was accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and the way hs disability was affecting the coverage in the press. I never imagined when I wrote it that a year later I’d be once again writing about the same issue. And more importantly that we’d still be needing to remind people that her name was Reeva Steenkamp (a hashtag that trended on and off for several days around the time of the murder and which resurfaced today).
Yet judging by posts I’ve just seen online we do.
On Monday the trial of Oscar Pistorius (on charges of premeditiated murder) begins in South Africa, where it will be televised. I imagine it will get coverage on the news here too and if not it’s bound to be live tweeted. The question is not if he killed her because he has already admitted he mistook her for an intruder and fired his gun at her but was it planned. Apparently, it’s legal for people in the UK to bet on the trial because it’s occurring in a different country.
And bookmaker Paddy Power have decided to take advantage of that fact with this advert which was placed in various newspapers in the UK and Ireland:
(image description: It has a background of two different shades of green. On the left Oscar Pistorius appears mocked up like one of the statues awarded at the Oscars. The text on the right is in three different blocks of different size/colour and reads: It’s Oscar Time. Money back if he walks. We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is found not guilty. The Paddy Power logo appears in the bottom right corner.)
Ok first off it’s morally wrong to be making money taking bets on whether or not a man meant to murder his girlfriend or if Reeva Steenkamp’s death was simply a tragic case of mistaken identity. You can bet that if Reeva Steenkamp had been one of the 138 woman in the UK who died as a result of male violence last year there would be outrage. Because it’s a famous inspirational and disabled man and a beautful woman happening in another country that makes it acceptable, entertaining and a way of entering a debate as to “if he did it or not” (actual quote from a Paddy Power employee in the comments of their blog). Frankly, it makes me sick.
Paddy Power’s blog about the offer describes the case in attention grabbing and glamourous terms “He’s the double amputee who became a global star after winning six Paralympic golds and then competing in the Olympics. She was the law graduate cover-girl.”
The death of Reeva Steenkamp obviously was nothing to do with Reeva Steenkamp herself. Because the ad is all about Oscar Pistorius and her name isn’t even mentioned on it (nor are the charges which is another issue). His name is the the headline of the Paddy Power blog and appears in the article another three times if you count his “blade runner” nickname. Her name only appears in the article once – and not until the third paragraph.
The court case is about a disabled man. Which means it’s acceptable for them to use ableist jokes such as “money back if he walks”. The term walked free is used a lot when people are found not guilty of crimes. However here it’s blatently used to highlight the fact that Pistorius is a double amputee. I suspect the Paddy Power marketing department had a big giggle when they thought of that because of course,” he hasn’t got any legs walking is a big deal for him!” and obviously that’s meant to be funny. Except it actually isn’t.
I am pretty cynical when it comes to disabiity stuff, I’ve been burned too many times by the way I get treated because of my cerebral palsy. But I looked at that I thought “even if he gets off they’ll probably argue that he didn’t walk and keep the money” – because he literally can’t walk the same way that nondisabled people do
Paddy Power state in their blog:
The forgot, obviously, the 4th option you have. Remember that this isn’t a small trial for libel or similar. This is a trial for the premeditated murder of a woman. A woman who was a law graduate, a model, a friend, a daughter. A woman who was loved and missed. A woman who deserves to have the dignity in death we would all want to have. Not have her murder trial turned into some sick money making scheme.
A year ago when I wrote about this before I wrote about the fact that she deserved justice. Well that’s still true. And if you’re one of the people who remember that Her Name Was Reeva Steenkamp and want to see her get that rather than seeing sick firms like Paddy Power make cheap money off of her death you can sign the petition calling for the ad’s withdrawal here.