Ahead of the forthcoming Valentine’s day, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and Sonke Gender Justice plan to launched a campaign titled #GunFreeValentine campaign to sensitize the South African society against indiscriminate killing that happens mostly on Valentine days.
According to the campaign organizers, women in South Africa are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than by a stranger‚ with firearms in the home posing a specific risk hence the need for the campaign.
Speaking further on the reason for the campaign, a gender expert with the ISS, Romi Sigsworth pointed out that the complexity of intimate partner violence meant a range of interventions was needed to reduce risk and build resilience.
“The problem is that interventions like early childhood development‚ creating jobs and tackling substance abuse are often long-term and expensive.
“A short-term and effective response to reduce the lethality of intimate partner violence is to remove the weapon used to threaten‚ injure or kill‚” says Sigsworth. “Guns by their nature are especially deadly. Proactive action by the police and courts to get guns out of the home can save lives by reducing the lethality of domestic violence.”
The South African Medical Research Council (MRC) revealed that about 57% of South African women are at the risk of being murdered by their spouses and that a woman is killed by her intimate partner every eight hours.
On the same hand, Adèle Kirsten said the campaign will launched on February 14 and will run until International Women’s Day on March 8 every year because a patriarchal country like South Africa sees gun ownership as sign of love and protection for one’s self and family.
“However‚ it is a myth that a gun in the home increases a family’s safety. Research shows that a woman is more at risk of being shot in her home with a legal gun owned by her partner than of being shot by a stranger,” she added.
Angelica Pino from Sonke Gender Justice buttressed the point by saying that the campaign is a wake up call to action.
“It aims to alert women to the risks of a gun in the home; and how the law can be used to save a life. Both the Firearms Control Act and Domestic Violence Act give women the power to take action against domestic violence by requiring police or court officials to confiscate firearms or other dangerous weapons when a domestic violence complaint involving a gun or other weapon is made,” she added.