Thursday, March 27, 2008

Should I have intervened ?

Yesterday on the way back from work, all bored out of my mind and just wanting to get home I sped out of the office trying to reach home and lay down on my bed as soon as possible. Coming up on the way in Rabyeh I cam across a Srilankian maid, as I assumed, she was signaling out a driving instructors car to stop. So I smiled at the fact she was doing that and thought she confused it with a taxi but wondered why the hell is she doing that in the middle of the street rather than on the side.

So it came my turn to pass her, and she signaled me down and that raised up a dozen questions in my mind at "what the hell is she doing?".Then I noticed an elderly man, in his late fifties I assume, he was standing around her holding her from the shoulder and seemed to be talking to her (rather than screaming) and trying to stop her. So I passed them but a part of me felt guilty so I parked a bit ahead and decided to observe. Things were escalating and it seemed like the man was getting impatient with her and more forceful in his request for her to come back with him. Then she started hitting him and although he tried to restrain himself, from what I saw, he did lash out a bit... at this point a younger guy, probably the guy's son, was heading towards them and things calmed down a bit so I decided to drive off.

The whole incident just made me think for a while about quite a few things and I tried to honestly recognize why I reacted to the whole thing by trying to avoid it.

So first observation was why did I first consider that she doesn't know the difference between a cad and a driving instructors car; that was because I perceived her a foreign made and I am biased to think that they will be less cultured and I consider maids to be less street smart than the rest.

Then it came the fact of why didn't I stop and help resolve it. The conclusion that I reached is a chain of thought whether moral or not it's how I came to do what I did, or didn't in this case.

The perception I have in my head is to side with the employer of the maid rather than the maid herself, that is purely based on my personal experience with maids. While I recognize the injustices that might befall them I still also can't distance myself from the crap the maids caused me and I had to put up with and the troubles they caused within my immediate family. So while she might be an honestly genuine victim the cost of verifying that and my skepticism were too high of a cost for the reward.

On the other hand the realization that, really it is non of my business to step in to resolve this did pain me to say the least. When I said the cost of verifying, I meant the fact that if I had stepped in it might have escalated the altercation and shifted the focus to me instead of her and I won't be glad about that since I know how volatile people in this country are when they see a stranger butting into their business. Thats beside the fact that there is a high probability that the maid erred them rather than what I would initially assume, that would put me in more heat in that case.

Thoughts about racism scantly skipped through my head at that point, would I have stopped if it wasn't a maid(someone who is more prone to be victimized). quickly the answer jolted in my brain with a resonating "NO, I wouldn't have even thought about it as much !". I usually don't like to involve myself into the troubles of two strangers and even people am familiar with since my experience is that they end up ganging up on you rather than appreciating the fact that you are trying to calm them down to rationalize the issue, so at an early age that was the rule whenever i observe something of that nature.
The only exceptions I have to that rule is when it involves a child or someone unable to stand to himself (for instance some of the special kids) . In that case it is irrelevant to me who wronged who, the child has a leeway not allowed to others.

So I guess inaction is what I found to be the best action, but is it the morally right thing to do ? and is it worth the risk and cost ? What would you have done ?


* art by Spalenka

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  • Bam, it is so cool you even cared to think about this.

    I think I would have stopped and find out what was going on, and maybe take the woman to the police to make sure she wasn't being abused. I would call my friend who speaks Sinhali and find out what happened If she was in the news the next day as an 'accident victim', I would have a hard time forgiving myself.

    It isn't that she is a child, but she is not in a position of strength for true adult defense in a culture she doesn't know. I would want to do what I could to level the playing field to make sure she was able to defend herself.

    And if she was running away with the family silver in her purse, then I would want to make sure she was arrested, too. :)

    By Anonymous kinzi, At 27/3/08 17:41  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 28/3/08 11:38  

  • Hey Bambam, you got tagged

    if it was obvious that she was in trouble and that i can prevent something bad from happening, i would do something but i would be careful with my approach.

    By Blogger Tala, At 2/4/08 18:14  

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