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Intimate partner violence

  • When the fighting is over, uncontrolled access to small arms and ammunition encourages further armed violence against women. When former combatants return home traumatised and brutalised, some take out their fears and pain on their families, often using weapons left over from combat. Although many men buy firearms to protect their families, research shows that a man’s access to firearms increases a woman’s risk of being killed. Widespread, unregulated access to small arms and ammunition following ceasefire and peace agreements facilitates further armed violence against women. One of the most important tasks in the aftermath of conflict is disarming former combatants and reintegrating them into society.
  • In post-conflict countries, guns circulate in the community, and post-conflict stress, limited economic prospects and a reduction in basic services combine to exacerbate the problem of domestic violence. For returning combatants, both women and men, the transition from the violence of the frontline to home life can be extremely problematic. The return of male relatives, many traumatized and brutalized by the conflict, can bring violence directly into the home. If men bring weapons home with them, the danger to women increases.
  • Family killings are the only category of homicides where women outnumber men as victims. When a woman is killed in the home, it is her partner or male relative who is most likely to be the murderer, often with a prior record of domestic abuse.  Gun violence can be part of the cycle of intimidation and aggression that many women experience from an intimate partner. For every woman killed or physically injured by firearms, many more are threatened.  Most firearms used in domestic homicides are legal.
  •  It is also important to consider the misuse of guns by the security sector, including police officers and soldiers, when off-duty. The issue of guns in the home is fundamentally linked to the wider issue of disarmament. A gun in the home is much more likely to be used to intimidate or physically injure family members than be used against an outside intruder.