Pakistan - Guns Aimed Increasingly at Women
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR, Sep 30, 2011 (IPS) - Guns available in new abundance in the troubled north of Pakistan are increasingly being used on women in ‘honour’ killings and domestic disputes, according to local reports.
"About 65 percent of the women killed fall prey to gunfire in honour-related cases and issues relating to domestic violence," local security analyst Brigadier (retired) Muhammad Saad told IPS.
Citing a study by the local Awaz Foundation, he said the problem has been caused by easy availability of small arms. Male members of families too often just pick up guns up over petty issues against women, and kill them, he said.
This is a problem across
According to Shabina Ayaz from the Aurat Foundation, figures reported in media show that 719 women were killed in 2010, including 381 in
"We have been campaigning aggressively to frame strict laws to stop proliferation of arms and save women," Ayaz told IPS. The elimination of illegal small arms holds the key to ending armed violence against women, she said. A report from the Foundation last year, ‘Situation of Violence Against Women in
Murtaza Khan from the group Action Against Small Arms told IPS that the Taliban insurgency in FATA and the north had put the lives of women on razor’s edge. "Cheap availability of small arms has led to excessive usage and multiplied the problems of women who are already marginalised in the male- dominated tribal society," Khan said.
There have been cases where women were killed over petty matters like serving a meal late, or getting late ironing the men’s clothes, Khan said.
The proliferation of arms is spreading, and the use of these weapons with that, Khan said. "Children as young as10 years old are trained to operate AK-47 rifles in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In some areas, the exhibition of arms is regarded as a status symbol."
"It is a big problem," acknowledges police officer Kareem Khan in
Three decades of intense warfare have left the region awash with anything from compact, James Bond- style pen pistols to Kalashnikovs and anti-aircraft guns.
Brig Saad told IPS that such large quantities of small arms floating around directly influence internal security and hinder development. "We need to disarm society and to make it more secure."
Calls for disarming the civilian population were heard after hundreds of people were killed in ethnic warfare that raged between trigger-happy Pashtuns and equally well-armed Urdu-speaking Mohajirs (settlers from
"The Pashtuns’ traditional fascination for guns has been fed by the Mujahideen war that ended the Soviet Union’s occupation of
Pashtuns comprise roughly 17 percent of
Where the Pashtuns once depended on a local gun-making industry that goes back to the 18th century, the advent of sophisticated weapons can be traced to the United States arming Mujahideen fighters with small arms, rocket launchers and the shoulder-fired, heat-seeking ‘stinger’ missiles that picked Soviet aircraft out of the skies.