On 13 March 1964 Life Magazine reported a frightening example of irresponsible detachment in New York. A decent pretty young woman of 28 called Kitty was returning home from her job as manager of a bar.
It was 3:20am. She had parked her car and was walking the remaining few yards to her apartment when she was attacked by a man and stabbed. She screamed for help.
Several lights went on in the apartment block, and somebody shouted from an upper window, “Let the girl alone.”
The assailant looked up, shrugged his shoulders and walked off.
But as the lights went out again and nobody came to her rescue, he returned and stabbed her a second time.
At her renewed screams more lights went on, windows were opened and heads looked out. So the man got into his car and drove away.
But again, as nobody came to help her, he returned to stab her for the third time and kill her.
Not until 3:50am. Did the police receive their first phone call. By then Kitty was dead.
When the police questioned local residents, they found that at least 38 respectable middle-class, law-abiding citizens had heard the woman’s screams, and had watched her being stabbed, but not one had done anything about it.
She had even recognized one witness and called him by name, but he did not reply. Why, the police asked, had these people not come to her aid? Some confessed that they did not know.
A housewife said she “thought it was a lover’s quarrel.”
A man explained without emotion, “I was tired. I went back to bed.”
“But the word we kept hearing from the witnesses,” said Police Lieutenant Bernard, “was ‘involved.’ People told us they just didn’t want to get involved.”
The story shows us different responses and can relate to:
- “Some confessed that they did not know” – these are the people who are claiming that they are not aware of a law they have broken or in any law that they should know.
- “thought it was a lover’s quarrel” – these are the people who are bind with tradition and belief within the family or custom
- “I was tired. I went back to bed “– these are the people who just mind their own business
- “didn’t want to get involved” – these are the people who don't take interest in everybody else’s affairs
The story tells us that it is not only men or women that should involve but all gender.
Let us not response to how the witness did. We are all part of this society.
We see a life-threatening social disease and we think that the problem is so huge that there is nothing that can be done about it, and definitely, our little contribution would make no difference to the scale of the problem.
But if individuals and communities want to change it is achievable.
Change can come in a world despite terrible inequalities.
This change depends on our values and attitudes, commitment to social justice and equity, value and respect for diversity and believe that people can make a difference.
What can I do?
a) Know your right being a woman
b) Get involved in an organization who supports the improvement and development of women and children
c) Educate yourself