Banning firearms for self-defence will make things worse for women in SA, says IRR

Gender-based violence is a serious problem in South Africa, with countless women and young girls at the receiving end of senseless violence. According to saferspaces.org, a shocking 25%-40% of all women in South Africa have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse over their lifetime. Equally horrifying are the murder figures. In 2009, 56% of all women murdered in SA were killed by an intimate, male partner. Our police service is seemingly unable to bring this under control, with many cases of rape and abuse going unreported due to the lack of proper policing. Now, the IRR is arguing that banning firearms for self-defence will only make things worse for women in SA – who are already at great risk. IRR analyst Amy-Claire Mouton believe that the state is using the legislation to evade responsibility for the country’s high crime rate, “by trying to blame law-abiding gun owners rather than addressing crime and holding criminals – and the police – accountable.” – Jarryd Neves

Gun-law changes will increase risk for women, says IRR

By the Daily Friend

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has warned that proposed changes to South Africa’s Firearms Control Act will place women at greater risk of gender-based violence.

The IRR says in a statement that, ‘given the extent of incompetence and criminality within the police, many households do justifiably need firearms for self-defence’.

The statement draws attention to a recent YouTube discussion between IRR analyst Amy-Claire Morton and Tshepi Mmekwa, the spokesperson for Girls On Fire, a campaign aimed at empowering women to protect themselves and their families.

The statement highlights Minister of Police Bheki Cele’s recent comment that ‘(armed) citizens won’t solve the country’s high crime rate’, and that ‘this proposed change in law also has the potential to mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of women who are in the clutches of their abusers inside their homes’.

However, Mmekwa is quoted as saying this will only serve to make things worse for women. She says: ‘Bheki Cele doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’m going to be very bold and upfront in saying that. Women are being slaughtered in South Africa day in and day out at the hands of their abusers without firearms. And let it be on record that there are many policemen who attack their own wives and children in their home and, even when it is reported, their own superiors don’t take their firearms away from them … Bheki Cele doesn’t understand that a woman who is 68kg (or) 70kg … has got no physical chance against a man who is 100kg or over.’

Mmekwa argues that taking away legal gun-ownership will not only fail to solve the country’s high crime rates but will also do nothing to protect women and curb gender-based-violence. Instead, it will leave women defenceless and victims of attackers who have the upper hand (both in terms of physical advantage and illegal weapons). 

Morton says the IRR believes the state is attempting to use legislation to evade responsibility for South Africa’s high crime rate by trying to blame law-abiding gun owners rather than addressing crime and holding criminals – and the police – accountable.

She says the IRR has investigated arguments that law-abiding firearm owners are a major causal factor in serious and violent crime, that gun-ownership places women at risk, and that households with guns are unlikely to use them effectively to fend off an attack. A report will be released soon debunking these claims as being unsupported by available data or research.

  • Learn more about the IRR’s campaign for the rights of legal firearm owners here.

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