India makes a gun for women as reports of gender crimes rise - report

by Nita Bhalla | @nitabhalla | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 10 January 2014 12:56 GMT

A woman participates in the "One Billion Rising" campaign to end violence against women and girls, in New Delhi February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal

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The firearm has a light frame, is easy to shoot and can fit inside a handbag, the manufacturers say

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India has developed its first gun for women, a lightweight revolver named after the victim of a high profile gang rape and murder, the Times of India reported on Friday, adding that the manufacturer said it would help women protect themselves amid rising reports of gender-based violence.

The .32 bore revolver has light frame and simple shooting mechanism and is “ideal to fit inside a purse or small handbag", the report said.

The firearm has been designed by the state-run arms manufacturer the Indian Ordnance Factory (IOF) and called "Nirbheek", meaning "fearless" in Hindi. The gun’s name is a tribute to the 23-year-old woman who was brutally gang raped and murdered on a Delhi bus in  December 2012, a case which drew global attention and sparked a national debate about violence against women in India.

The young woman, a trainee physiotherapist, was given the pseudonym "Nirbhaya" by the media and politicians as Indian law does not allow for rape victims to be identified. Made from titanium alloy and weighing only 500 grammes, the handgun was launched on Jan. 6 and has already received 80 official enquiries and 20 orders.

"Expectedly, the weapon has received a very good response," said Abdul Hameed, general manager of the IOF in the city of Kanpur, adding that 80 percent of orders so far had come from women.

"The revolver is capable of firing six rounds loaded in a revolving chamber, hence any misfire of a round does not affect the next shot, unlike in a pistol," he said. The newspaper report said the gun was priced at 122,360 rupees (around $2,000) and was to be sold in velvet-lined boxes.

The report said not all women believed carrying a handgun would help to protect them against assault.  “There is nothing they can do to a woman with a gun that they cannot to one without," Shalini Seth, a medical executive, told the Times of India. "In rape, the threat is not so much to life and a weapon may not be helpful once a tormentor has prevailed on his prey."

Reports of rape, dowry deaths, molestation, sexual harassment and other crimes against women rose by 6.4 percent in 2012 from the previous year, according to the National Crimes Records Bureau. Police attribute the increase not to a rise in crimes being committed but more women breaking their silence and coming forward to report such offences.

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