Indian Government Promotes Guns for Women

The Indian government recently commissioned a state-run gun maker to specifically produce guns for women. The lightweight .32-caliber revolver is called, “Nirbheek,” which means fearless in Hindi.

The gun weighs just 500 grams, and is the first handgun made of titanium alloy.  The Indian Ordnance Factory in Kanpur has been working on the design for two years. Though there has been much talk around the innovative design of the gun, only a few people have purchased it. Within a few weeks of its release, the company received just 10 orders.

The government introduced this gun in response to outrage over a gang rape of a 23-year old woman referred to in the media by the alias, “Nirbhaya.”  Nirbhaya was riding a bus when she was brutally raped and beaten by several men.

The Indian Ordnance Factory hopes the lightweight, compact design of the gun will encourage women to carry the firearm in their purse.

The gun maker hopes women carrying firearms will serve as a deterrent for men and give women a sense of security.  However, the gun costs 122,000 rupees, or $2,000, which is far above the average per capita income in India.  For poor women, or women with no access to their family income, the gun is unattainable.

Gun licenses are usually only granted to men, and more often to upper class men.  Women’s rights groups are worried that corruption and gun restrictions will inhibit women from obtaining a license.  Furthermore, the Allahabad High Court has banned new gun licenses due to corruption in the licensing process.

Despite the price and restrictions on gun ownership, the company says they have received 80 inquiries and over 20 bookings, with women making up 80% of their market.

While the government and gun manufactuers see this as a victory for women, many women’s rights groups have spoken out about the need for a cultural shift. Rather than creating an expensive firearm, the Control Arms Foundation of India suggests the government should prioritize security for women.

Stephanie Lamm

Sources: CNN, Times of India, Al Jazeera
Photo: Pagunblog