In an effort to defend themselves from gender-based violence and femicide perpetrators, Girls On Fire is encouraging women to take up arms to defend themselves (GBVF). The initiative was started by Lynette Oxley who is a gun owner on a mission to change perceptions around gun ownership and use among women.
“We believe women should be empowered and enabled to protect themselves and their families through adequate knowledge and training rather than merely protesting the current state of affairs in South Africa. Through our community, we hope and intend to train, up-skill, educate and equip women to protect themselves and their families – we are victims no longer,” said Oxley.
Since its inception in 2015, Girls on Fire has seen around 5000 women undergoing an introduction into handguns. Other areas of focus include law, situational awareness, concealment and a practical session on the range. Oxley believes that “a firearm, coupled with the right mindset, is one way that a woman can protect herself effectively from someone bigger, stronger, and meaner, or several such miscreants. Attackers nowadays do not attack alone. They are mostly in groups of two or more.”
“The police are not there when these crimes are committed – they never can be. The criminal chooses the time and place of the attack and they choose to attack when there is no obvious protection around, “added Oxley. She said through the various events they have held she has seen many women who have been on the receiving end of violence. Oxley highly recommended that women should take up arms and learn to defend themselves.
Girls On Fire participant, Lisa Sipika said she joined the initiative after persuasion by a friend. “I travel for work to remote parts of the country by myself, and my friend felt it worth looking into being a firearm owner. The Girls On Fire event was very informative with guides who took each of us through the safety and basics of handgun shooting,” said Sipika.
Sipika said during the event, a lot of the myths were dispelled. She was happy to see a large number of black women at the event especially since “guns were a taboo within the black community, “added Sipika who plans to save up for a firearm.
“The decision of being a firearm owner is not influenced by wanting to end anyone’s life but it is all about empowering and enabling myself to be my own and my family’s first responder in life-threatening situations. I plan to take my 13-year-old daughter to the next event. I’m also looking into sports shooting, “concluded Sipika.