Does The ‘Bell Bajao’ Campaign…

inspire people to do something against domestic violence or do most people still hesitate to interfere in other people’s personal business? In my opinion, mass media campaigns work well in sending the message that domestic violence is not normal, but I don’t think real change occurs due to them…

Why do I say this? Take my case…On Monday evening about 50 people (including me) in our condo’s play area witnessed a huge Dutch guy hitting and pushing his tiny Vietnamese wife whilst pushing their one month old baby in a carriage…He walked the length of the park dragging his wife with one hand and then started hitting her…The wife finally managed to get away and he went up to his apartment…My 5 year old daughter noticed this first and asked me what was happening…Everybody was staring but nobody (including me) had the guts to do anything…This couple lives on the 9th. floor of our building and are usually very lovey-dovey…My friend is their neighbour and she happened to be in the same lift with the beaten wife when she eventually went up…The latter was crying and the former (who has a hi-bye relationship with her) asked her what the matter was…The woman said something had bitten her…A few minutes later, the friend called me and said that the woman was banging on her apartment door to get in but her husband wasn’t opening it…She was wondering if she should intervene but was a bit worried that if she did, the husband (who could have been drunk although didn’t seem to be) would be rude to her…Both of us didn’t know what to do since it wasn’t our business and we didn’t want a backlash…In other words, we were cowards…

When I told my husband about this, he said we should have called the police or the domestic violence helpline…Yes, we should have and the next time I witness something this terrible, I hope I have the guts to at least pick up the phone and call…

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23 thoughts on “Does The ‘Bell Bajao’ Campaign…

  1. You’re right. Such campaigns can only make us aware of the problem. But that doesn’t automatically translate into intervention. Taking the initiative to intervene when confronted with a real, live incident of domestic violence comes down to personal courage. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Most people don’t know what to do in such situations. But then the guilt can be crushing. I’ve also suspected problems of this nature in the homes of neighbours in various places, but didn’t act on it. Kept thinking, maybe they’re just yelling at each other. What if I’m wrong? I hadn’t actually witnessed the violence.
    Good that you’ve decided to call for help if it happens again. Bravo.

    Me: You know, Rupa, I haven’t been able to sleep much since that evening…It’s continuously playing on my mind…Why do people feel the need to hit? Can’t they just argue? This guy had his wife in a choke hold – sheesh!

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  2. That was such a traumatic thing for your daughter to notice. While we older folks can even wait to decide whether to interfere, children probably end up thinking thats how things always are.

    I hope your decision to put in a call to the helpline/authorities yields results.

    Someone I used to work with had been in this situation, and she would frequently appear at work with very visible signs of violence. Her neighbors finally called the police (her husband was a drunkard), and what happened ? She told the police nothing like that had happened, and the cops yelled at the neighbors. This, in Mumbai. I hope things are different where you are, and the poor lady doesnt have to suffer again like this.

    Me: You are right…There’s no point calling the authorities if the person who is being violated doesn’t speak up…
    I’m in Singapore & I don’t know how things work here…

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  3. You’re absolutely right. Most of us know what should be done, but we’re just too well conditioned to not interfere in others’ business. It takes time to unlearn things and then learn new ones. Your resolve to speak up next time is exactly that, methinks.

    Me: I hope I never witness such a thing again & if I do, I hope I can keep my resolve…

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    • Agree with D.

      That is why it becomes more important to let more women know of their rights and the option they have to speak up. I don’t think campaigns can solve problems but it spreads awareness and helps in the long run for sure.

      Little support sometimes goes a long way.

      Me: The problem is that most women don’t speak up even if they know their rights…I saw the couple last evening…They seemed all lovey-dovey again…This time, the woman’s attitude irritated me…OK, I know she has her own reasons for staying with her husband, but still…

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  4. Hey,

    These campaigns work. The fact that you are still thinking about intervention, about what you can do… is a definite trigger. Chk out the Bell Bajao website for info on helplines. I agree with you about the husband probably responding rudely. He will be rude to you. The wife herself will probably tell you that it’s none of your busienss. But tht’s the whole idea of the campaign na? You don’t have to confront. Just use an excuse to intervene.

    I dunno… we have to do something. This is the least.

    I remember reading about a woman who actually rang the doorbell of her neighbour, another who gave blank calls on the intercom. The point is to intervene; the ecuses can be many.

    R

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  5. This is one reason why some Westerners to marry Asian women.
    Shocking and shameful. Where does that poor woman go? I am sure he knows that she has little choice and, more importantly, is culturally brought up to be submissive. One can only imagine what might be happening to many women behind the veil…

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  6. It’s a difficult situation- for you, I mean. I don’t know what the laws are there, but what will happen if you call the police and the woman denies everything?

    Better if you can persuade her to speak up/ go to the police- perhaps go with her to support her.

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  7. I don’t think the hesitation is because we don’t want to interfere. I mean if one could press a button and that would force the guy to stop, wouldn’t all of us do it?

    So what makes us hesitant really? Probably fear that we’ll face some backlash personally.

    Me: Yes, this is a major deterrent…

    Suppose you were three times the guy’s size, would you find it easier to interfere?

    Me: I don’t know…I guess it would be easier…

    I think if I were big enough not to be afraid of getting harmed, I would interfere without a thought. Never mind if the woman herself screams at me.

    But there’s another factor at work here. It’s a well known fact that the more people there are around, the less likely it is that someone will interfere. This is because people feel that if no one else is doing anything, then it must be ok to keep quiet. The conclusion is that if you’re in a group, you would let things happen that you would never allow if you were alone. It’s called diffusion of responsibility.

    This was highlighted in the US by the famous case of Kitty Genovese who was beaten up, stabbed, and raped in public in New York (1964) and no one did a thing.

    I’ve made up my mind that if I see this happening in public, I will interfere, everyone else be damned. I just hope I don’t get too hurt doing it.

    Me: I’m glad you have the courage to do something…The world needs more people like you…I also think a lot of people don’t do anything because they don’t want to get involved with the police esp. the Indian police…

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  8. I can relate so well to what you are saying. I feel so completely worthless, because I see and do nothing. i have never experienced domestic violence, but corruption, eve teasing stuff like that. See and shut-up and feel all frustrated later on. It is just wonderful that you have the option of calling up someone there, so next time just do it. Also you might have been too shocked to react to what you saw yesterday, such things just get so deep into the psyche, that it renders us motionless for a while. But the good thing is you know what you will do next time, and that in itself is a great thing Bones!

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  9. I too believe that if I ever see something like this, I will do the right thing. But can one really say what one’s reaction will be when actually faced with a similar situation? But, since this incident has affected you, it is likely that if you are in a similar situation again – and I hope you aren’t – you will intervene.

    Quirky Indian

    Me: I hope so too, QI…

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  10. Aww!! Difficult situations these. While in childhood, we are taught to ‘do the right thing’, as we grow older, reality takes over ethics. I wouldn’t have the guts to step in either! Shame shame!

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  11. It must have been difficult for you n that situation.. I think being in a new place also makes a difference. You might have behaved differently if you had been in a place you have lived for a long time.. You might have been more comfortable raising alarm if you knew that you would get some support too, you know.. Makes me wonder how I would behave too.. We never know – until we are confronted by something like this, do we?

    Am sure you will hold on to your resolve the next time.

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  12. Ur resolve Bones pick up the phone next time shows that the BB Campaign has worked. It makes ppl aware because these ads come in between those programmes we tune into every day. And I know there is the issue of boundaries here where the personal ends n the private begins, but most of the times, I feel one person’s initiative moves the crowd (mob psychology) many times not always.

    Reminds me of an incident my mother was a witness to during her childhood:
    Husband -wife fighting in their courtyard. sreaming, swearing, shouting, name calling ….add on… n wife beating. A crowd watched helplessly. When the H took the butcher’s knife to slash W’s throat a young man came forth to rescue the W.
    In gratitude W said to him “what ‘s ur business here, my husband, he beats me can kill me, what’s with u” Pathetic or what do u say to that, same like ur neighbour (an insect bite??)

    Me: “My husband can kill me” – wow! Unfortunately, most Indian women think like this and unless they change their way of thinking, domestic violence will continue…

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  13. Most of the time it happens… we know we should stop it.. but something or other unnecessary thought will come and ruin us…. Its time to take a resolve not only for domestic violence but for every atrocities happening around us….

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  14. I would done the same thing as you did….see, you want to act but the fear of getting it back reversely is so high…I have faced some minute situation like this, where I have turned back with REGRET..which is right act????

    Me: I think most people feel like us…Having said that, I admire people who have the guts to do something – who aren’t armchair activists…

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  15. I did ring the bell Sraboney when this happened near my place, I took my son and two watchmen and also called our society secretary, who reached there even before I did.
    I am generally easily scared but I feel even when a man feels he can rightfully beat his wife, he won’t dare to touch another woman. Only thing that bothered me here is that the woman might deny being beaten, which happened when we rang the bell, but we made sure he knew he could be jailed and she had support. We even made her save our cell numbers and took her number too.

    The campaign shows we can be subtle in our threats. Just ask casually about something like, did our (non existent) cat go and hide in their apartment.

    Calling the police is the best option if the police there is supportive unlike in India.

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    • Why I say he won’t touch another woman is because that would make him a real criminal even in the eyes of those who think DV is a ‘personal matter’. Any man who is beating a woman is an obvious coward who knows he can get away with such behaviour. He will also know he can’t get away with beating other people – men or women.

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  16. And I agree with Pins and Ashes, “Ur resolve Bones pick up the phone next time shows that the BB Campaign has worked. It makes ppl aware because these ads come in between those programmes we tune into every day.”

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  17. You should have called the police. There is not need to be afraid. The police do not tell the name of the person. Not even in India. I have called the police once when I saw a neighbour hit his wife’s head against a wall, this was in Kolkata. The police came and no one came to our house. As far as I knew no one knew I had called the police. Another neighbor told me that someone had called the police, they didn’t know who!
    Overall, these campaigns work, because they at least increase our sense of guilt. You feel guilty now, and everytime you see an advertorial you will feel a pang. So the campaigns arouse feelings on us, and one day we will overcome our inhibitions and do the needful.

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  18. I think every one who commented here should resolve that we will interfere when we see such things again. If we have a network of such like minded ppl around you it is easier to ring the bell.

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  19. never been faced with such a situation…so I dont know what my response would be like..I can only hope and pray that I would have the courage to do something or say something…

    but the resolve gets more firm when I see the campaign and read posts such as yours that I am going to do something…no idea what…but something for sure…

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