Women take up arms to defend themselves against gender-based violence
Pretoria - Women have decided to take up arms to defend themselves from gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) through an initiative called Girls On Fire.
It was started by Gun Owners South Africa’s Lynette Oxley to change perceptions around gun ownership and use among women.
“We believe women should be empowered and enabled to protect themselves and their families through adequate knowledge and training rather than merely protesting the current state of affairs in South Africa.
“We do not see women as victims. Through our community, we hope and intend to train, up-skill, educate and equip women to protect themselves and their families – we are victims no longer.”
Since its inception in 2015, Girls on Fire has seen around 5000 women undergoing an introduction into handguns. Other areas of focus include law, situational awareness, concealment and a practical session on the range.
Oxley said criminals would always have guns.
“We can speak about changing societal problems, but the people speaking are not the problem. The people keeping quiet in the dark are the problem. We will never change their minds.”
“A firearm, coupled with the right mindset, is one way that a woman can protect herself effectively from someone bigger, stronger, and meaner, or several such miscreants.”
“Attackers nowadays do not attack alone. They are mostly in groups of two or more. The police are not there when these crimes are committed – they never can be. The criminal chooses the time and place of the attack and they choose to attack when there is no obvious protection around.”
She said through the various events they have held she has seen many women who have been on the receiving end of violence. Oxley highly recommended women take up arms and learn to defend themselves.
Girls On Fire participant Lisa Sipika said she joined the introduction to handguns after persuasion by a friend.
“I travel for work to remote parts of the country by myself, and my friend felt it worth looking into being a firearm owner. The event was very informative with guides who took each of us through the safety and basics of handgun shooting.
“A lot of the myths were dispelled. It was great that so many black women attended the event. Guns are quite taboo within the black community.”
She said she intended saving for a firearm. “The decision of being a firearm owner is not influenced by wanting to end anyone's life but it is all about empowering and enabling myself to be my own and my family’s first responder in life-threatening situations. I plan to take my 13-year-old daughter to the next event. I'm also looking into sports shooting.”