The price of safety for women is 1.22 lakh rupees in India! The Indian Ordnance Factory in Kanpur has recently developed what it claims to be “India’s first gun for women” that costs Rs. 1,22,360 . The factory has also ordered specially designed boxes lined with velvet to make it more attractive to its fairer and apparently more superficial clientele!
The makers of this gun tout it as a safety measure and say that it will help women take their safety into their own hands. At what cost is the question! Moreover, this belies the fact that violence against women is predominantly a systemic and typical featureof our society and not composed of random acts of violence. Women face large-scale harassment and violence from the armed forces and police in our country every day, every minute and every second in Kashmir and the North-east. How can a gun help them in such situations when their attackers carry arms and ammunition and bear the badges of the state? Moreover, this gives the attackers a further excuse to fire indiscriminately in “defense”.
Women are made the objects of sexual gratification and objectified daily in the media. Their bodies are used as billboards to advertise everything from cars to creams. Which faceless target should they aim their anger at for being portrayed in this manner? The perpetrators of such violence are not individuals but rather the system that we live in.
The makers of this gun also exhibit the traits of this exploitative system as they choose to make profits from the recent tragic gangrape, not only appropriating part of the name of the victim but also making the gun so expensive that they seem to say – “Protect yourself if you can afford to!” How do they expect ordinary workingwomen to pay over a lakh which is much more than the yearly salary of most Indian workers? What about the violence that women face at their workplaces, on the streets, everyday?
The makers also cleverly help the state in foisting responsibility from its shoulders by saying that women can now “defend themselves” and use “the element of surprise”. Does this mean that those who are supposed to protect us aka the police and the armed forces can sit back and say that women have the choice of buying guns if they feel unsafe? This is not the democracy that citizens of our country signed up for. If our government truly worked towards the wellbeing of its people, then they would not feel the need for guns. It does not bode well for the solidarity of a country’s people when they are made to fear each other. The real culprit is the state and its institutions which exploit and oppress us and propagate false notions of a criminalized society when in reality, it is the biggest criminal in itself!