News / Firearms, Gender-Based Violence

Sonke, Gun Free SA and Women’s Legal Centre launch campaign “Know the Law, Use the Law, Save a Life”

gun-sticker

As we celebrate another Women’s Month in South Africa, violence against women continues unabated. For many families there is little cause for celebration: the family of Sowela Nkuna, killed by her police husband in Alexandra in June this year and the family of Reeva Steenkamp, as the person responsible for her death, Oscar Pistorius, is due for release after less than a year in prison.

While women make up just 10% of gun homicide victims in South Africa, firearms still play a significant role in violence against women; guns are used to kill, rape, threaten and intimidate. Research into intimate partner violence in South Africa shows that women are most vulnerable to being shot by an intimate partner in the home: 32% (1,147) of women killed in South Africa in 1999 died from gunshot injuries, reducing to 17% (462) in 2009; 60% (692) of gunshot homicides in 1999 occurred at home and 31% (405) of women were shot and killed by an intimate partner.

“The message of this joint campaign is very simple: know the law, use the law, save a life. Research shows that legal gun ownership significantly increases the risk of intimate femicide–suicide (the killing of a female by her intimate partner followed by the suicide of the perpetrator within a week of the homicide), with two-thirds (66%) of intimate femicide–suicide perpetrators in 1999 owning a legal gun and a significant proportion of intimate partner-suicide perpetrators are employed in the police, army or private security industry, reflecting easier access to guns in these professions. Moreover, guns are often used in rape – 41% of rapes reported by adult women to the police in Gauteng Province in 2003 involved a firearm”, says Adele Kirsten, director of Advocacy and Lobbying at Gun Free South Africa.

There are provisions in the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) and the Firearms Control Act (FCA) that gives SAPS and the courts powers to remove dangerous weapons from homes and from the hands of abusive gun owners. The FCA gives the courts the power to declare a gun owner unfit to own a gun for a range of reasons, including if he is convicted of any offence involving physical or sexual abuse occurring in a domestic relationship as defined in the DVA; and any offence in terms of the DVA in respect of which the accused is sentenced to a period of imprisonment without the option of a fine. The DVA allows magistrate’s courts to grant interim and permanent protection orders ordering the respondent to stop their abusive behaviour. The court can also order the police to remove a firearm or any other dangerous weapon from the respondent, whether the respondent owns the gun or simply has access to it.

“Unfortunately women are not aware of these provisions and they are not always properly informed of their rights in this regard when they approach SAPS or the courts to apply for protection orders”, says Keegan Lakay, from Sonke Gender Justice.

“We want to make sure that women in abusive relationships are empowered to use the law to have guns and dangerous weapons taken away from abusers. Incidents like the Alexandra police station shooting, where a police officer shot his wife and three others, including another police officer, demonstrate the urgent need for this kind of awareness-raising”, says Sanja Bornman, attorney at the Women’s Legal Centre based in Cape Town.

“A woman can take immediate action if she lives in a home where there is a gun and the gun owner is abusive. Any threats must be taken seriously. Friends and relatives of women experiencing abuse can also look out for warning signs and threats, and act immediately. We urge SAPS officers to do likewise”, stresses Bornman.

The removal of firearms and prohibition of firearm ownership following incidents of intimate partner violence are recognised as important policies to prevent violence. “We call upon the courts and police officers to be more proactive in asking about the presence of a gun and ensuring its removal when responding to incidents of domestic violence, even where victims do not request this.” says Keegan Lakay.

During August, Gun Free South Africa, Sonke Gender Justice and Women’s Legal Centre will intensify our efforts to inform communities of these legal provisions and also support women who demand action from SAPS and the courts.

Download the Factsheet here.

Target

FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT:

Sanja Bornman, Attorney Women’s Legal Centre
E-mail: sanja@wlce.co.za
Website: www.wlce.co.za

Keegan Lakay, Community Education and Mobilisation Manager Sonke Gender Justice
Email: keegan@genderjustice.org.za
Website: www.genderjustice.org.za

Adele Kirsten, Director of Advocacy and Lobbying at Gun Free South Africa
E-mail: adele@gfsa.org.za
Website: www.gfsa.org.za

Editors note: The statistics in this release are taken from a variety of research papers including from the South African Medical Research Council, WHO, Small Arms Survey.

12 August 2015
You may also like
Civil society organisations disappointed by failure of Ministry of Police to respond to SAHRC regarding xenophobic state…
7 Dec 17 – We call on the Ministry of Police to respond to the SAHRC’s letter with urgency, and …
Sonke releases 10 year anniversary video and latest Annual Report on heels of important human rights achievements
5 Dec 17 – Celebrating a decade of working to advance gender justice in South Africa and the region.
Sonke Gender Justice welcomes UNAIDS World AIDS Day report on the urgent need to reach men and boys with HIV services
1 Dec 17 – Sonke calls on governments around the world and especially in Southern and Eastern Africa, to act …
Sonke welcomes passing of Labour Laws Amendment Bill as landmark achievement for all parents in South Africa
29 Nov 17 – Sonke welcomes the acceptance of the Labour Laws Amendment Bill by the National Assembly on Tuesday …
Sonke reiterates call for Mduduzi Manana’s removal from parliament
15 Nov 17 – Sonke notes with grave concern that Mr Manana continues to serve as a member of parliament. …
Sonke stands by the women who accused Danny Jordaan of rape and call for him to be held accountable
3 Nov 17 – Sonke calls for Jordaan to be suspended from the ANC and as SAFA president with immediate …
Victory for child rights and violence prevention in South Africa as defence of reasonable chastisement ruled out of line…
20 Oct 17 – The South Gauteng High Court has ruled that parents charged with hitting their children will no …
Sonke calls for apology and retraction from King Goodwill Zwelithini regarding recent comments on corporal punishment
4 Oct 17 – Calling for a renewed commitment from the Department of Basic Education to implement the National Protocol …
“We must have zero tolerance for all forms of violence”
3 Oct 17 – Outlining the necessity of the Five Days of Violence Prevention Conference.

Send this to a friend