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CAPE TOWN — The proposed amendments to the Firearms Control Act should be opposed at all costs, because in its current state the law has succeeding in reducing violence against women and children.
So says Dr Naeemah Abrahams, a researcher with the Medical Research Council. She pointed out the dangers of the proposed amendments during a discussion of the 16 Days Campaign of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children yesterday.
This year’s campaign will focus on the role of firearms in such violence.
Abrahams, a panel member at the discussions, which were held at the Saartjie Baartman Centre here, said the Firearms Control Act has helped to reduce the incidence of murders involving firearms. “This is legislation that really works. We must oppose the proposals at all costs.”
She said proposed amendments to the act, which will be presented to Parliament next year, include lowering the age at which a firearm licences may be obtained and increasing the number of firearms allowed per person.
Abrahams said the perception that firearms are kept in homes for security is false. If firearms are not used to murder women, they are used to intimidate them and force them into submission.
“There are women who go to sleep knowing that there is a firearm under the pillow or in the drawer. These firearms are often not used against criminals, but against loved ones.”
She said firearms feature in up to 40% of sworn statements by women about violence in the Western Cape.
During the discussion reference was also made to statistics showing that a girl born in South Africa is more likely to be raped than to learn to read.
Synnov Skorje, director of the centre, said they see women literally running for their lives.
Democratic Alliance MP Helen Lamoela said a policy on the compensation of victims is necessary because they are frequently left to fend for themselves.
Darlina Tyawana, a community worker, said offenders who go to jail get hot food, receive training and are eventually better off than their victims.