Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Experiment Regarding Domestic Violence and the Bystander Effect

A South African experiment involving the bystander effect bluntly portrays how this phenomenon allows issues of violence to continue. In the video seen below, the group People Opposing Women Abuse has a man loudly play drums in the middle of the night. Almost immediately many different neighbors come to complain and see what is going on; one would think that perhaps this community would be quick to react to a different noisy stimulus. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. When the group plays a recording depicting domestic violence, not one person comes to complain about the noise. The group went on to play the recording two more times after this and not one person ever came to see what was going on or intervene.

This sort of situation occurs so often in the world, most famously with the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, when a woman was murdered in her apartment complex while screaming loudly, which ended up being futile when not one neighbor came to find her. Earlier this year, a homeless man named Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax was injured while defending a woman and ended up collapsing on a street in New York. Surveillance footage shows plenty of people walking by, with no one stopping to help him – he would die from bleeding to death on the street.

While I applaud this group for pointing out that domestic violence is still a major issue, it is terrible that in this day and age the bystander effect is still an issue. That not one person would go to investigate the noises after so many came when drums were the source of the noise is heartbreaking. It is certainly difficult to confront domestic violence, but it is so important that people take the initiative to stop it when they believe it to be happening.

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