UN General Assembly
October 28, 2014
Statement of the Second Amendment Foundation
I am Julianne Versnel of the Second Amendment Foundation. I would like to address the topic of violence against women and the natural right of self-defense, especially as it pertains to women.
Mr. Chairman, more people die every day from malaria than are murdered by small arms in three days.1
More women and children die from starvation each day than are murdered by small arms in a 15 day period.2
More women die3 each day due to urgent medical care4 being denied them by systems that allow their male relatives to refuse care every day than are murdered by small arms.
More women are living in isolation because of societal ostracization caused by physical and mental disfigurements inflicted on them by men each year than are murdered with small arms. The acid burn victims in India,5 the 12 year old dehumanized brides,6 in Afghanistan, the women raped by armed-gangs in Mexico,7 and the mutilated, and do not forget murdered, victims of honor violence that occurs even in Europe, the Americas and Australia8 are just a few examples of these unspeakable crimes against women.
Gender violence9 often is perpetrated by male familial members of their families who do so with immunity and impunity–and in many instances with governments turning a blind eye,–condoning or even endorsing–the violence. To quote Amnesty International: “Perpetrators of violence against women are rarely held accountable for their acts. Women who are victims of gender-related violence often have little recourse because many state agencies are themselves guilty of gender bias and discriminatory practices. Violence against women is so deeply embedded in society that it often fails to garner public censure and outrage.”10
Mr. Chairman, the United Nations recognizes the right of governments to defend themselves, and to possess the means of doing so. Yet this body perpetuates the situation that keeps the number of women victims growing by denying them, and in fact all human beings, the means to–and decrying even their right to—defend themselves. They are the victims not of small arms, but of political philosophies and state policies that say only governments are worthy of defending themselves. To argue that people have the right to live but not to defend their lives is to argue in favor of continuing to keep women at risk of criminal violence in places where government does little to protect them.
Mr. Chairman, this body must address the right of women to defend themselves and their right to have the physical means–including firearms—of doing so. Or, acknowledge the hypocrisy inherent in proclaiming support for women’s causes while keeping them vulnerable to male-perpetuated criminal violence.11
1. According to UNODC statistics there are 538 homicides worldwide each day. See http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/Homicide/Globa_study_on_homicide_2011_web.pdf. There are an estimated 1718 deaths from malaria every day. See http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/ According to UN estimates there will be almost 10,000 cases per week of Ebola. With an anticipated 70% mortality rate, there would be 1000 deaths per day from this disease.
2. According to http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats, 8493 children die each day from hunger.
3. 315 thousand women die in developing countries from hemorrhage at childbirth each year, 863 each day. See http://www.wfp.org/hunger/who-are.This does not include death from disease and other causes where a male family member will not allow a female family member to receive medical care. For example, in some parts of Africa, a midwife cannot even be called to help with a birth without male permission.
4. There are an estimate 2-4 million women with an obstetric fistula in Africa. There are between 50 and 100 thousand more cases per year. This serious medical condition is caused by a lack of essential medical care. See http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obstetric_fistula/en/
5. There are an estimated one thousand acid attacks each year. See http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/02/acid-victims-crowdfund-treatment/.
6. One in four girls globally are child brides; they are married before the age of 15. These girls are more likely to have a large number of children, a low level of education, and less likely to receive medical care during pregnancy. See http://data.unicef.org/corecode/uploads/document6/uploaded_pdfs/corecode/Child-Marriage-Brochure-7_17-HR_164.pdf)
7. See http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/06/mexico-rape-victims-face-prison-time-for-self-defence/ and http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/11/26/machismo-and-old-prejudices-keep-mexican-rape-victims-silent/
8. See http://www.meforum.org/2646/worldwide-trends-in-honor-killings. In 2000, the UN estimated that there were approximately 5000 honor murders per year. This figure only includes killings, not mutilation. See http://nypost.com/2014/06/26/honor-killings-daughter-worked-with-feds-to-catch-father-making-threats/, http://www.mapsofworld.com/poll/is-honor-killing-honorable-facts-infographic-text.html
9. “There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.”
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon (2008)
10. See http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/women-s-rights/violence-against-women/violence-against-women-information for complete quote.
• Women are by natural usually pacifists. They are the first to agree to non-violence policies and the first to be victimized by those policies.
• Women are statistically going to be victimized.
• The current policies have created and institutionalized a policy of violence against women.
• There is a cultural norm that allows women to expect safety in public but not in private, and increasingly not even in public.
• Violence against women is female reality. Over the past eight years, at least 40,000 women were killed in India alone in dowry deaths despite several new legislative actions in recent years.
• The lack of access to small arms does not stop violence against women. Rather it enables its escalation as perpetrators know that their victims are unable to defend themselves.
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) are violated by not allowing women a means to self-defense.
• There are numerous other reasons for and causes of femicide: gender selection abortions, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, murder of female babies at birth, etc. that are not addressed.
• It is estimated that 35.6% percent of women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes. This is more than 1.2 billion women. As the 2011 Global Study on Homicide shows, gender-based violence affects a large number of women worldwide and represents a serious threat to the harmonious development of societies.