Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gang raped in broad daylight -- No response

Just about a month ago, a disturbing video of students at a spring break party witnessing a gang rape surfaced on the internet. Perhaps what's more disturbing than the gang-rape itself is the fact that the students in the video are just standing around, either ignoring it, or watching it happen.

Here are some theories for why people normally don't react in such a situation:

1. The bystander effect (a situation where there are loads of people around but nobody offers any help to a person in need of it. In some cases, the more people, the less anyone is likely to help.This could sometimes be due to fear or performance anxiety.)

2. The stupor effect (I don't think a term like this exists, so I made it up. This is a case where all the people around are so drunk they're unable to respond).

3. The it's-not-happening-to-me-so-why-should-I-care effect

I'm going to bet on the first one as, judging by the people in the censored version of the video, nobody seemed to be too drunk (in a paralytic state) to be able to help. There have been several social experiments in which the bystander effect was used and, on very rare occasions, someone offers their help. Take the brave 22 year old woman of Turkish descent who was killed in Germany because she interrupted an incident which probably could have escalated into rape.  I'm sure she had no idea she was going to get seriously beaten for her act of bravery, but she still stood up to the perpetrators -- who were in fact cowards for picking on one woman while there were three of them.

It's obviously easier said than done as, two months ago my younger sister and I were walking out of Victoria station in London and witnessed four policemen chasing a man -- who wasn't running very fast, if I should be honest. We watched him run past us (in slow motion) and didn't do anything. It was a passing cyclist who stopped the man from running any further. I can admit that once I saw him run towards us, I thought he might be in possession of a weapon and, therefore, considered it would be best not to do anything just in case he decided to attack us. I suppose I was just assuming that the police officers would catch him (bystander effect).

My thoughts on the gang rape incident are the following: If you're personally unable to do anything in a similar situation, at least call someone who is (ex. police, other adults). I don't think it's more heroic filming something if you're not going to do anything about it. In many cases, we see videos on YouTube, or Facebook, that end up mocking the people in it, and promoting violence, mockery of individuals, or explicit sexual content as acceptable entertainment. *Seriously shaking my head*

If we see something that's not right, we should try to address it, not turn a blind eye.

Stay safe.