March 8, 2016
In South Africa, a woman is at greater risk of being shot by her partner, in her home and with a legal gun than being shot by a stranger. As is the case in many countries, guns are highly masculinised in South Africa: they are often viewed as a means to demonstrate manhood, wield authority and validate power. Most firearms are owned by men, ‘whether in state structures such as the police or military, as part of non-state armed groups, gangs and militias, for leisure or sporting activities such as hunting, or for self-defence in the home’. The high levels of firearms circulating in South Africa, together with traditional concepts of masculinity, are a deadly combination.
The prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the clearest markers of continued inequality between men and women in any society. South Africa has particularly high levels of SGBV for a country not involved in conflict.
These rates of SGBV occur in a context where levels of violence are high in general. The 2015 Global Burden of Armed Violence Report shows that South Africa is among a small group of countries that exhibit the greatest concentration of lethal violence in the world. Given that they’re deadly and easy to use, firearms play a significant role in the perpetration of deadly violence. A 2009 study on injury-related mortality found that firearms are the second leading cause of homicide in South Africa. acheter viagra Gunshot injuries were also found to be a leading cause of death, resulting in ‘17.6 firearm-related deaths per day.’
such as their own homes, where guns are used to intimidate, threaten and control women, usually in the context of domestic disputes.
of their rights under these laws. Among other reasons, the number of women who apply for protection orders requesting the removal of weapons remains low because of ‘the lack of clarity in the application form … along with cultural and conceptual problems around the definition of a dangerous weapon.’
Second, courts should be proactive – and police officers should routinely ask about the presence of a gun and ensure its removal when responding to incidents of intimate partner violence, even when victims do not request this or when the incident of abuse does not directly involve a firearm. Finally, both women at risk and the broader public need to be informed of the protective provisions contained in the FCA and DVA, and to be encouraged to act upon or utilise the law to safeguard themselves, their families and community members.
Most importantly, the myth that having a gun in the home increases a family’s safety needs to be dispelled. Guns come with risks, and those risks include the injury and death of anyone in the home.
Gun Free South Africa, the Institute for Security Studies and Sonke Gender Justice have been running the #GunFreeValentine campaign from 14 February until International Women’s Day tomorrow to raise awareness that any woman who lives in fear of a gun or other dangerous weapon in her home can ask the police or the courts to remove the weapon immediately.