10 Killer Facts: The Global Weapons Trade

‘Every day, thousands of people are killed, injured or forced to flee from their homes as a result of violence and conflict involving weapons.

The sobering statistics demonstrate why we need strong global regulations to prevent the world’s weapons falling into the wrong hands.

1. 1,500 people are killed every day by conflict and armed violence
Deaths resulting from war, armed homicides, extra-judicial executions and excessive use of force by state security forces amount to over 500,000 per year or 1,500 per day.

2. There’s more international laws regulating the trade of bananas than weapons
Legal loopholes in the laws governing the trade of weapons enable states and corporations to sell guns, bullets and teargas to dictators and tyrants, who’ve then used them to kill and injure civilians. Weapons are often traded irresponsibly between countries, with little consideration of whether they’ll be used to commit human rights abuses.

3. 12 billion bullets are produced every year
That’s almost enough to kill everyone in the world twice. There’s an estimated 875 million guns in the world right now, and about 8 million ‘light weapons’ (such as heavy machine guns) are produced each year.

4. Over 26 million people have been forced to flee their homes
Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes in fear of their lives due to armed conflict. This often pushes people further into poverty by restricting access to clean water and shelter, while increasing the likelihood of deadly diseases.

5. Child soldiers are being used in armed conflict in 19 countries
Tens of thousands of children are being used right now by governments in their armed forces and by non-state armed groups. These children are often armed using weapons irresponsibly traded by governments and private corporations.

6. For every death, there’s up to 28 serious injuries
It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many people are injured in armed conflict, past statistics indicate that as many as 28 people are injured for every person killed by weapons on battlefields.

7. Damage caused by weapons destroys infrastructure and perpetuates poverty
As well as killing and harming people, weapons such as missiles destroy vital infrastructure that people rely on in their daily lives — such as access to food, water and shelter. This can push survivors into poverty.

8. 74 per cent of the world’s weapons are supplied by just six countries
In 2010, almost 3/4 of the world’s weapons have been supplied by six of the world’s most powerful countries: USA (34.84%), Russia (14.86%), Germany (7.43%), United Kingdom (6.57%), China (6.29%), and France (4%). All but Germany are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. By allowing the trading of weapons which are then used to commit or facilitate human rights abuses, these governments are permitting their use for repression, conflict, violence, and other human rights violations.

9. Systematic rape of women and girls can occur through the use of weapons
In conflict regions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivore, and Sierra Leone, the scale of rape and sexual violence is staggeringly high. Many women and girls have been forced into sexual slavery by fighters, and many are raped at gunpoint. Women and girls are often the forgotten victims of armed conflict.

10. A strong Arms Trade Treaty could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year
During 2-27 July 2012, world leaders come together to decide on whether to agree to legally binding international standards regulating the trade of arms between countries. This is a historic opportunity, one too important for governments to play politics with. We’re using this opportunity to call for a treaty that:

  • Is strong enough to regulate the trade of all conventional weapons, including small arms, machine guns, bullets and tear gas
  • Prevents the sale and transfer of weapons that could be used to commit serious human rights abuses.

Read more: Why do we need an Arms Trade Treaty?’

Source: Amnesty International

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Unapologetic Feminist

“The revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution. Women hold up the other half of the sky.”

Thomas Sankara

I am an unapologetic feminist. And before you run for cover, let’s explore this issue a bit further. What is a feminist? Historically, this seems to be a rather scary, intimidating term that many shy away from. My male doctor just the other day told me that a feminist was a woman screaming at the top of her lungs, thinking she was better than everyone else. Feminists have been thought of as bra-burners and men bashers. An activist by the name of Lindsey told me she didn’t like the term “Feminist“. She said she’d rather refer to herself as a “humanist”. I’m wondering though, why being a feminist excludes you from being a humanist? In fact, wouldn’t it make you more of one? After all, women’s rights are human rights. Unless we’re not human.

For me, a feminist is one, male or female, young or old, who agitates for the right of girls and women to live dignified lives free of discrimination, violence, intimidation and one full of opportunities and choices.  One who agitates for women to give birth without having to give up their lives, or be able to take control of their own bodies, and make the choice not to give birth. A feminist is one who believes women and girls should have access to the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as their male counterparts.  Some argue this on the basis of the socio-economic argument; empowering women empowers the entire community. Living standards will improve, children will be healthier and more educated…but we can also argue that women deserve all the rights and privileges afforded to their male counterparts simply because they are women who hold up half the sky, as Sankara reminds us. We should value women as women, and girls as girls. Not necessarily because they are mothers, sisters, daughters and such. And although that is invaluable, if a woman is not a mother, is she not given consideration?

When men lift their hands to beat their wives or partners, let them also remember that this could be their mother, their daughter, their sister. Would they want their daughters to be beaten up senseless by their partners?

When I tell people, men especially that I work in the area of women’s rights, I’m immediately asked, “What of men’s rights?” We know that in much of the world, historically and presently, women have been at a disadvantage. They have been marginalized in terms of political participation, in issues of their sexual and reproductive health rights, in terms of economic and business opportunities and the list goes on. To quote another, “Men never died as a result of having children. Unless their children killed them.” The fight for women’s rights need not come at the expense of men’s rights, as many believe. In fact, the realization of women’s rights leads to the realization of human rights which is beneficial to men.

Lastly, we are not men bashers. At least not the majority of us. In fact we believe that we can’t win this battle alone. We believe that we must work with our male counterparts to achieve our goals of equity and justice.

Men, remember, just as you hold up half the sky, so do we.

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