When first talking on the intertwining between domestic violence and guns, I must confess I was kind of surprised, not to say skeptic. To me, GUNS were used by governments, the military forces, the police… They were responsible for mafia and other illegal networks crimes and murders, settings of scores, or high death toll in wars and they were mainly illegally owned… Above all, they were a men business.
But this is a platitude. This is why I m here. And this is the message I should be delivering to you on my ground level, in the name of IANSA and any other affected woman who doesn’t have the possibility to be heard.
Of the above assumptions, only the latest is half correct: The vast majority of those who use and are killed or injured by small arms and light weapons are men. This is because in many countries, there is a strong social and cultural association between masculinity and possessing a gun. Thus, researchers estimate that gender and age are more powerful predictions of gun violence than geographical location. (and let’s not forget that owning a gun must be understood as a choice as the majority of men do not own or use guns).
This report should not let us forget that women are proportionally a very important at risk population too if one considers that they barely own, manufacture, import, or trade any arm. It is therefore necessary to apply a gender perspective to the small arms issue, understanding the different ways men, women, and boys engage in, and above all, are affected by gun violence. As regard the other assumptions, we should all be aware that the vast majority of arms circulating are in civilian hands (an overwhelming 75 % of all guns, relegating the military and the police to a limited position). The private arsenal is three times as large as all the firepower of governments combined which make weapons regulation and control, extremely difficult. Most of them are legally possessed but it’s easy to divert their use from a legal to an illegal one, as you can guess.
Where women are concerned, violence in the home is as big problem as street crime because intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence in women’s lives worldwide. On average, it is estimate than 1/3 of women will be physically abused at least once in their lifetime by their partners but the numbers vary greatly from one country to another. Yet, what this woman-endured-violence has in common is the fact that it is more likely to take place at home, far from people’s look, and imposed by their male partner or relative.
Now lets try to link these two parameters : a widespread use of guns and a widespread practice of domestic violence. Guns have become a tool for wreaking domestic violence on women. The home is traditionally considered to be a safe heaven, and when men own gun, it’s assumed that its only to secure their family and protect it from a stranger invasion. One must confess that rather than providing protection to women, guns are used domestically to threaten and abuse women at home and this increases the risk of homicides for them. Thus, legally owned arms are the primary weapons used in domestic homicides in many countries but this is only the tree that hides the forest. Lets ask ourselves: before being actually killed, what did these women had to go through or could have been forced to do because of the presence of a gun at home? How many cases are left unreported because women usually seek assistance after several years of abuse? How many shadow numbers should we add, kept silent because women fear retaliation or think they cant get any support?
Posted By Fanny Grandchamp
Posted Jun 17th, 2009