In a controversial move, an Indian state-run gunmaker put on the market a lightweight pistol specially designed for woman in an attempt to give them a way to protect themselves from violence.
On a first read, for any of you keeping up with the widely shared stories on the rape and harassment of women in India, this may seem like a positive move by the government. In the U.S. many women pride themselves on carrying guns in their purses and knowing how to use them. So the first picture that comes to mind here is of an Indian woman pulling out a gun to fend off her attackers and blowing off their balls if they step too close.
But that’s exactly the problem. Where is the focus on stopping the attacks from happening in the first place?
On a second read, it becomes blatantly apparent that this move is a distraction from dealing with the real issue which, according to Ruchira Gupta, a women’s rights activist and founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, is the “culture of domination and violence” where men need to project their masculinity through domination.
“Women in India feel this gun is not going to help in security,” she said. “And we do not believe the gun is a solution to ending sexual violence.”
She added that it sent the wrong message. Rather than prioritizing security for women, “the government is introducing expensive weaponry to sit in handbags. It’s an abhorrence to women,” she said.
To make matters worse, the price tag on the gun actually makes it completely unaffordable for the average woman in India, meaning that in reality, it was only ever meant to help protect wealthy Indian women. According to the article, the average ANNUAL per capita income in India is approximately $1,400, while the new gun is priced at approximately $2,000! Are we smelling something fishy here yet?
The company even had the gall to name the gun ‘Nirbheek’ after rape victim Nirbhaya, the 23 year old student who was brutality raped on a bus by 5 men and died from her wounds. If you have never read her story, now is the time. More likely than not, even she wouldn’t have been able to afford the new gun in the first place. Her story is a perfect example of the deeper issues at hand: the driver cooperated with her rapists, driving them around Dheli for over an hour while they had their fun. When they dumped them from the bus nearly dead, no one helped them.
Guns for the wealthy are not the answer.
Women face harassment and violence so often in India that the government has a responsibility to implement concrete, far reaching and long term initiatives to deal with this epidemic. On our end, we can stay angry, raise awareness, and help support those who are fighting to make a real difference.