The days when Kerala/ Indian woman illegally carried unauthorised goodies like safety pins, razor blades and hot chilly sprays, in their vanity bags to fend off the indecent lustful male are over. They can go now legal, own a revolver and feel safe. The launching of the gun, first if its kind as a solution to the criminal problems the females face came as the government's initiative. And the launching took place on 6 January 2014. The manufacturers of the weapon, Indian Ordnance Factory, at Kanpur, named it Nirbheek (fearless), a tribute to the December 2012 Delhi rape victim, Nirbhaya.
According to its manufacturers, the weapon comes with many attractions; " 'a .32 bore light weight revolver', made of titanium alloy and weighing only 500g, can settle snugly inside a female's purse or a small handbag. In the view of arms experts, it is ''an Indian hybrid of a Webley & Scott and Smith & Wesson, for its simple mechanism and light frame...''.
The cutey is intended to make the females, as the name indicates, fearless. With that, they can easily face any assailants under any circumstances even as heinous as Nirbhaya's and even shoot them down if the situation gets out of control.
However, facilitating gun-use, which in itself is violent to resolve deep-rooted law and order problems in the country, including rape, that has social and gender outgrowth, have drawn criticism from women's group and anti-gun campaigners across the nation. According to them, this is government's failure to accept responsibility and an insult to Nirbhaya.
And what about the affordability of the new protection tool? According to Mail and Guardian, the fire arm's cost "about £ 1200 -- 40% more than India's average annual income is far beyond the reach of the vast majority of women." The newspaper also points out that among India's estimated 40 million gun owners, the number the second largest in the world, next to that of US, only 15% are licensed, and Times of India concedes that ''the government offers arms licenses as an incentive to achieve wheat procurement and immunisation target'.
But Abdul Hameed, the general manager of the gun manufacturing company is very upbeat about the gun-sale. According to him, 80% of the bookings received on the day of the launch came from women licensees.
Given the prevailing situation in the country, having very little security for females, inside and outside homes; law and order personals seemingly least committed to female security while letting the perpetrators, mostly men, escape; insistence of the traditionalists that females are responsible for making all wrongs right inside and outside homes; and the females haven't formed an effective net-work to be part of the solution etc, it's possible that many women, who could afford one would think of securing one.
This was initially published in 2014. When I saw recently a news in Mathrubhumi about the increasing number of females in Kerala seeking gun licenses, I thought of reposting it.