Mapping the Use of Guns in Violence Against Women: Findings From Three Studies


Vetten, Lisa. 2006. “Mapping the Use of Guns in Violence against Women: Findings from Three Studies.” African Studies Review 15 (2): 86–92.

Author: Lisa Vetten


This article explores the role of firearms in acts of violence against women in South Africa, drawing on three datasets: one investigating the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), the second exploring gang rapes, and the third documenting intimate femicide. In relation to domestic violence, it was found that while guns were referred to in one in four applications for protection, their removal was ordered in only two per cent of applications. Both a provincial femicide study and a national female homicide study found guns to be the leading cause of death for women killed by their intimate male partners and found that in the majority of cases, the gun was legally owned. In contrast, in the gang rape study it is more likely that the guns were illegally owned. The involvement of a firearm in gang rapes highlights the fact that guns not only fulfill the functional purpose of intimidation and injury, but also communicates power and masculine display. The three studies point to the need to train magistrates around the necessity to remove firearms in cases of domestic violence and that it is essential to challenge the symbolic associations between masculinity and power.

Keywords: domestic violence, rape

Topics: Domestic Violence, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Weapons /Arms Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2006

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