Disarming domestic violence: A forgotten connection

Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent form of gender based violence in Pakistan and particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to Pakistan Health and Demographic Survey report 2017–2018, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, 52% of women faced intimate partner violence, while in the Newly Merged Tribal Districts such violence was reported to be 66%.

Guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination but least discussed in context of Pakistan. The mere presence of a gun increases the risk of domestic violence homicide by 500 percent. Like many other countries, in Pakistan it is common that guns are used to intimidate and perpetrate violence and women especially are more at risk of arms misuse in a domestic context. Women are five times more likely to be murdered by an abusive partner when the abuser has access to a gun.

In Pakistan, where according to media reports there are some 20 million legal and illegal weapons in the hands of individuals, the annual rate of homicide involving small arms is 9.18% per 100,000 population including 5.03% of female homicide. It is a well-documented fact that gun violence is directly proportional to the prevalence of guns in any country.

Countless women and girls have been shot and killed or injured in every region of the world. Millions more live in fear of armed violence against women. Two key factors lie at the heart of these abuses: the proliferation and misuse of small arms and deep-rooted discrimination against women. Armed violence against women is not inevitable. Access to firearms and their easy availability at homes is a serious concern for victims of domestic violence and their communities, which much be considered and discussed at public and policy level to curb the issue.

A study conducted in 2006, to assess the patterns of homicide, recorded that the homicide rate in Peshawar are alarmingly high as 86% of homicides cases being caused by firearms. These numbers from only one of the study speak for themselves — to save lives, it is essential that federal and provincial gun laws keep deadly weapons out of private or domestic violence abusers’ hands and control access to guns at home premises.

The possession and use of firearms are not only directly used to cause gender-based violence, but it also indirectly reinforces gender inequality. It is time for the government as well as for civil society working to promote peace and gender inclusive sustainable development, to assume its responsibility to protect the lives of all citizens and to declare that all categories of weapons must lie only in the domain of the state and that no citizen be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon — licensed or otherwise. Also, considerations of gender perspective in addressing gun violence is necessary to develop evidence-based strategies and effective multifaceted solutions to counter the misuse of guns.

Targeted policy and community interventions require evidence based data while the use of firearms and particular impacts on women, girls, children, gender minorities and other vulnerable communities to intimate partner violence are notably understudied and underfunded relative to other leading causes of death. Improved sex-disaggregated data collection through research and data analysis is vital to bridge the knowledge gap on who is killed or injured by firearms and under what circumstances in order to formulate gender-responsive strategies for small arms control.

For any question or information, please contact Ms. Sana Ahmad, Women’s’ rights Activist from Peshawar, at contact@blueveins.org. You can also find Sana Ahmad’s article here: https://www.thekhybertribune.com/2021/04/15/disarming-domestic-violence-a-forgotten-connection/

Sana Ahmad is a young emerging women and sexual and gender minority rights activist, having a law degree with a specialization in Human Rights. She is the provincial coordinator of Child Rights Movement (CRM) KP, represents Pakistan in the Global expert group on gender and HIV of EKHN, provincial coordinator of “Ujala Network”, supported by Amplify Change, a national campaign for social inclusion of wide range of marginalized groups, and legal advisor to TransAction (Provincial Alliance of Transgender Community) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This blogpost was written as part of IANSA’s “Civil society engagement in support of gender mainstreamed policies, programmes and actions in the fight against small arms trafficking and misuse, in line with the Women, Peace and Security agenda”, which is funded by the United Nations. This document was produced with the financial assistance of the United Nations through contributions received from the European Union. The views expressed herein are those of the Implementing Partner and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or the European Union.

The global movement against gun violence, supporting civil society organisations working to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.