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Her Name was Reeva Steenkamp

February 15, 2013

by Hannah Quinn

Reeva Steenkamp is dead. She was shot in the head and arm, by her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, 2013.The news of her alleged murder has been all over the newspapers and television broadcasts around the world.

Yet, the news has little to do with Reeva herself.

I know very little about Reeva Steenkamp. Before her alleged murder, I had never heard of her. Since her alleged murder I have learned that, apparently, she tweeted about sharing the love on Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend. I learned that she was a model. A blonde. Beautiful. I have seen several pictures of her, some in a bikini, like the one on the front of The Sun in England. Going by their headline and focus, you could mistake the background of a beautiful woman in a bikini as being unrelated.

That would be bad enough. Dreadful, in fact. However, that woman is Reeva Steenkamp.  The Sun didn’t even include her name.

The story, it seems, is only about the alleged murderer, his achievements and our shock over what ‘has happened.’

The news coverage, and perhaps the zeitgeist, is about how we so very much admired this young man just a few short months ago. Yes, we did. I did. However, that is not my focus. I am not surprised nor shocked that an achieving man, overcoming physical obstacles to achieve what many without such cannot even hope to achieve, would/could then go on and commit a heinous act. It is an old story. Courage, determination, ability, achievement do not automatically denote good character and/or ethical fortitude.

He did, allegedly, commit a heinous act. He apparently murdered another human being. Not a stranger. Not defending anyone. A woman who loved him.

So, this is the story of a woman allegedly murdered by the man she loved. Her name was Reeva Steenkamp.  Why are we only seeing and hearing and reading repetitions of his story?

Where is Reeva Steenkamp in this most intimate of stories? The story of her life; her death? It seems, she is no more than a seed for the ‘real’ story. A body to tantalise. It is as though, because she was a model, beautiful, in a relationship with a man people admire/d, she is irrelevant. A quick search on Google and you find photos of Reeva where she is being ‘just’ a woman, but the photos chosen by the media are of her posing, modelling, and/or in a bikini.

Modelling was her job. It was not who she was. I cannot say if she was a good person, a strong person, a clever person, or even a nice person. I can say she was a person. She had family, friends, activities, likes, dislikes, experience. Life.

She is dead, at the hand of a loved one.

The least she is entitled to is to be treated as a person and included in the coverage of her violent death.


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