This past August – which is women’s month – 93 women were shot and killed, an average of three women a day.

To give a face, a name, a story to this number, to this horror, Gun Free South Africa collected information on just 21 women who were shot and killed this year to symbolise the number of women shot and killed in one week in South Africa.

While these 21 women’s stories were being profiled, the killing continued. Also published on 1 September were the following three shootings:
‒ Six year old Nathlia Pienaar died in hospital after she was shot while playing outside in Lavender Hill. She was caught in the crossfire and was still holding onto her skipping rope when her family found her in the street just minutes later.
‒ South African female boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels was shot dead on Friday by her police officer boyfriend against whom she had a protection order.
‒ A 39 year-old woman was shot in the head by her estranged husband as she tried to pick up some of her belongings at his house in Summerstrand on Saturday. The couple’s three children, aged two, seven and ten, were present during the incident.

Briefing 4 looks at women under the gun; it locates the murder of women and girls within a global context and identifies clear and proven actions to protect women from gun violence.

While South Africa’s Firearms Control Act (2000) has provisions that allow the police and courts to remove a gun from a violent individual and which prohibit violent individuals from accessing guns, these are not being uniformly implemented.

Below is a summary of five urgent actions to protect women from gun violence:

Reactive: Remove guns from individuals with a history of violent behaviour
1. Immediately remove firearms in incidents of IPV
2. A gun owner who is declared unfit surrenders all licences, firearms and ammunition.

Proactive: Ensure systems are in place to prevent individuals with a history of violent behaviour accessing guns
3. All gun owners comply with “fit and proper” provisions in the law.
4. Electronic criminal record and firearms databases and registers be established and linked.
5. Police officers dealing with firearm-related issues are empowered with knowledge, skills and resources.

These interventions will not stop what the United Nations has described as the “widespread, at a high level and normalised” violence against women and girls in South Africa. But, because guns are 12 times more deadly than other weapons when used in intimate partner violence, they will help save women’s lives.

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