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‘Rihanna turned to face (Chris) Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused (Rihanna’s) mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle. Brown looked at (her) and stated, ‘I’m going to beat the shit out of you when we get home! You wait and see!”
These are details from the court documents from the Brown and Rihanna beating case.
This kind of incident is all too familiar to many South African women. According to a Gender Links research paper, The war @ home, 77% of women in Limpopo province, 51% of women in Gauteng, 45% of women in the Western Cape and 36% of women in KwaZulu-Natal have experienced gender-based violence in their lifetime.
But despite this, and just as the curtain falls on the international Sixteen Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Children, Brown fans are preparing for the SA leg of his worldwide tour.
The night before the Grammy Awards in 2009 Brown assaulted Rihanna. He was sentenced to five years probation and six months community labour. He publicly apologised for the abuse and did community service. Brown did not go to jail.
Jen Thorpe, editor of FeministsSA.com and MyFirstTimeSA.com, recently wrote it was understandable that spending money on a perpetrator of domestic violence and allowing him to perform in three major cities immediately after the anti-abuse campaign had caused frustration among some South Africans.
“However, those who empathise with Brown have reminded the world that he apologised to Rihanna. Surely, critics should butt out of the situation and allow the two to move on. One person on twitter asked, ‘why should he have to face a public jury?’ If Rihanna forgave Brown, shouldn’t we also forgive and forget? It is a logical argument and reflects society’s inclination to stay out of the private lives of other citizens.
“This sits uncomfortably with me. It reflects the outmoded view that the private should never be public.”
Unfortunately, most domestic violence is not a once-off incident, Thorpe says. That’s why legislation enables women to get protection orders to keep the perpetrator away. The law recognises that when women report abuse, it’s probably not the first time they’ve been beaten up.
“Although Rihanna’s pathway to healing is hers… It seems clear that Brown only apologised for his actions because he faced legal action and extreme public pressure.
“Brown as the perpetrator and Rihanna as the victim were both in a limelight that most victims and perpetrators are not in. Unfortunately their actions took on the level of allegory, and the message we’re left with is – you strike a woman, just say sorry, keep calm, and carry on. Should we ever forgive them?” Thorpe asked.
But it seems that Brown fans all over the world already have. Many women tweeted how they wouldn’t mind being beaten up by Brown. “Call me crazy, buttttt I would let Chris Brown) beat me up me up anyyyyy day.” Another, tweeted: “Chris Brown could beat me all he wants, he is flawless.”