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Principles for work at the community level

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • It is impossible to prescribe solutions that would be applicable across the globe for increasing community safety by halting the violence arising from the proliferation and misuse of guns. However, experience does point to some guiding principles.
  • Detailed analysis and understanding of the community and its governance are essential in order to identify the main causes of violence against women in the community and the proliferation and misuse of arms. The research should include all stakeholders, and particularly people who wield power. A holistic view of the situation must be taken, which involves addressing all human rights issues, including civil and political rights (such as the participation of women in public life, police brutality and impunity for offenders) and social, economic and cultural rights (such as access to education, poverty and unemployment). Alternatives to using guns to support livelihoods must be considered.
  • In cases of violence against women, include intake questions on the availability of small arms, i.e. does the perpetrator have access to a gun? Find ways to ask discreetly and adapt response. If a gun is present, the woman’s protection needs will be different. Keep track of cases and include questions on small arms in data collection on violence against women.
  • Genuine engagement of the community is imperative. Initiatives must be driven by local people to ensure relevance, participation, shared responsibility and understanding. Political representatives and the police must be representative, accountable and responsive to the community as a whole.
  • The needs, perspectives and talents of all members of the community need to be incorporated. This includes men, women, girls, boys, older people, people with disabilities, and people of different ethnicities and religions. For example, former combatants and gang members from different sides may have much in common and can act powerfully for change in challenging gender-based discrimination and violence, and gun culture. Women and women’s organizations must be empowered in the face of discrimination to have an equal voice and equal influence in all community initiatives. Ways must be found to provide alternative sources of a sense of identity, purpose, group support, and security for young people, both boys and girls.
  • Partnership between civil society and government is a key factor. Civil society is essential for achieving constructive change, but sustainable change of policy and practice also requires government involvement. Governments can be strong allies, endorsing, strengthening and sustaining the movement for reform, but civil society should be careful to avoid co-option and inducements to legitimize inappropriate government policy. Effective flows of information are critical to ensure effective co-operation.
  • Train security officials, guards, police and military to take women’s human rights and violence against women seriously. Change recruitment and training methods.

Additional Resources:

Information Kit on Women and Armed Violence (IANSA)  



Disarm Domestic Violence Campaign  

Disarm Domestic Violence Campaign Bulletin and Action Kit  

Armed Domestic Violence, Infer Trust  

Guns and Domestic Violence, Gun Policy News