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Would you report domestic violence?

Charlotte Attwood | 17:13 UK time, Monday, 2 August 2010

A social experiment carried out in Johannesburg has found that local residents appeared far more concerned about the noise of drums than they were about possible domestic violence.

domesticviolence.jpgThe research showed that the neighbourhood was immediately up in arms during a vigorous drumming session, but when a recording of what appeared to be a physically violent fight between a couple was played, not a single person spoke out.

The experiment was carried out by POWA - a South African support group for victims of domestic violence in conjunction with an advertising agency. A video of the experiment has been posted on You Tube.

What would you do? Intervene or mind your own business? Is what goes on behind closed doors a private matter? Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 3 August at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.



  • Comment number 1.

    yes, i will immedially report domestic violence,because it will help to build the community,in my opinion,many of the childrens in africa, suffer from these domestic violence.

  • Comment number 2.

    Domsetic violence particularly against women and children and is not acceptable and for those that witness or hear about it and fail to report ought to face the consequences of failing to do so in my point of view. People need to understsnd that we all are into this together regardless of your gender,age color and religion.Domsetic violence has no room at this age.

    Garang, North Carolina,US.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is a no-brainer. Of course I would intervene. I have intervened in the past. Spousal abuse in South Africa is horrible. My fiance' is South African. Her former husband abused her and her daughter on a daily bases. When there wasn't physical abuse, there was mental abuse. All too often in South Africa, this is the norm. So many woman are abused they think it is "just the way things are."
    My finace' said she would scream out to the neighbors. They would turn their backs and close their shades. She would go to the police and try and issue a report. They would just laugh and send her back - because they are all abusers themselves.
    As I said, I have intervened in the past. In South Africa and in the U.S. Probably not the smartest thing to do but I have stepped in (physically). "Try hitting me!" In each and every case the man has backed down. They back down because ultimately, ANYONE that would hit a person smaller then they or not as strong is a coward.
    We have abuse in the U.S. as well (of course) but we have laws and we prosecute abusers. We help the abused with womens programs to help them carry on with their lives. Those programs in South Africa are not taken seriously because abuse is not taken seriously. I guarantee the BBC will received more comments about the BBC's new website then they will about this subject. Men just don't care. Women are afraid because society does nothing about this red mark on society.
    You will hear that men abuse because their fathers were abusive, or they are out of work or "their (partner) cheated on them. Or it is our "tribal way". Or their Dad left. Or a million other excuses. Fact of the matter is, my Mother was abused. We boys in the family decided that we could treat the women in our lives with respect and dignity. There is no reason for a man to abuse a woman. Peiod. There is NO such thing as "she deserved it."
    I taught my sons's that they must respect women and treat them as equals. More importantly, I as a man, taught my daughter that she deserves nothing but respect. They know that I will not tolerate them giving out abuse or being abused in any way.
    And it is not confined to a certain class of people. People living in shacks abuse just as doctors and lawyers and politicians do. It spans across all economic classes.
    Spousal abuse will not stop until men change and take action against other men that abuse. This is not a womans problem. It is a man's problem. Stand up and be men - admit you have a problem - get the help you need and stop the abuse!
    My thanks to the BBC for having the class and the guts to address this issue.

  • Comment number 5.

    Domestic violence is a worldwide problem, so let's be careful not to imply that South Africans are the only cold-hearted people. I have lived in the United States for over 15 years, and here too they rarely call the police to report violence unless it threatens the so-called "order." The same people who call authorities report loud music at night only turn off their lights and watch through the windows when there is domestic violence.

    What the South African case teaches us is that as people throughout the world improve their standard of living, they are increasingly becoming selfish. The focus on individual pleasures, or what Americans calls "the pursuit of happiness," is what leads us to call the police when the music is too loud and interrupts my television program.

    You might ask, "Aren't cries from a woman or child being battered just as disturbing as the drums?" Yes. But a beating normally lasts a few minutes. A good drumming party can last two hours or more, therefore causing more discomfort in my life.

    People also might hesitate to report domestic violence because they blame the victims. I have had so many people ask, "Why can't she leave him?"

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    In fact if i fail to respond to assault on my neighbour it is an invitation to being attacked by such neighbour.This was exactly what made me to fight a neighbour in may,2010 because he was beaten his wife1it is aduty that we should fight this menace [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 8.

    Domestic violence is a serious concern in almost all communities in which we live. So it is always necessary to take the appropriate approach resolve such issues or else it will degenerate to conflict. To me I will intervene through diloque and mediation. Of coures I've been doing this for many occassions, and it had been successful. I believe one way that you can succeed is to be neutral, objective and honest in undertaking such a venture.However, I think I reported a case of domestic violence to the Family support unit of my area when I notice that one of the parties seemed to presume that he was doing the right thing. So reporting to the appropriate authority to interpret the law to such parties is also necessary. Finally, mojor domestic violence could be reported or otherwise, one could use other approaches, preferably, dialogue and mediation.

  • Comment number 9.

    people tend not to intervene in domestic violence because it is 'domestic', it is assumed that the couple wil settle eventualy and the person who intervene might be viewed as an intruder and laughed at by the couple. its time this mentality change.

  • Comment number 10.

    there's an increasing rate of individualism in Africa, where people care less about what happens to the neighbour. So they would rather complain about the noise from the drums. And again,people are usually careful to comment on a domestic violence incident before getting the full story, which usually is not easy to get when both parties are still hyper.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would try and appeal to both the abuser and abused to try and resovle things in a civil manner, then when things have quitened down; I would outline the consequences of abusive character to the man, gently explaining other options of resolving situations and warning what might happen if he contiues. I would never get involve if it's physical, just in case he or she misess a punch intended for the other party and it lands on me.

  • Comment number 12.

    Whilst it is morally right and the very least one can do to try and intervene in such a situation the sad fact remains that most instances of domestic violence go unreported (both by the victim and the 'witnesses')..

    Only reason this happens is because of the African metality that such issues are better resolved by the parties involved and should remain behind closed doors. It also does not help that half of the victims of domestic violence are unwilling to report such cases either because they feel the case will not be taken seriously or just the fact that they do eventually go back.

    I for one would report such a case, but there is only so much one can do. It would also be upto the person involved (against whom such a crime has been committed).

  • Comment number 13.

    As African women get more and more ECONOMICALLY empowered, domestic violence would decrease, but then rates of marriage itself will decline.

  • Comment number 14.

    I would like to report it. However, I have heard more than once that even if there is abuse, the victim and perpetrator of the abuse will get angry if anyone intervenes in any way. In fact, here in the USA Midwest, some guy beat up another guy beating up a woman, now HE is going to jail. Go figure that one out.

  • Comment number 15.

    domestic violence is prevalent in every society.one should take action against it.reporting to police is the last resort if negotiation or counselling failed.judging the gravity of the matter the neighbours should intervene.they can not be reluctant because it has a deep impact on the children.in most of the cases women are sufferer,so prompt and meaningful action is necessary.

  • Comment number 16.

    I will not hesitate to report any form of domestic abuse to the authority. Abuse in any form is morally wrong and must be curtailed. The last thing child/ren wants to see is their parents fighting or querelling all the time. This is sending a wrong message to the children which no doubt affect them emotionally and psychologically.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Listen, this is not a woman's problem. It is a man's problem. It's how we as men behave -- or rather mis-behave.

    I've read a lot of philosophy in these comments. Most men on this page will commit more to a sports team or have something more of substance to offer to a fishing trip then spousal abuse. Bottom line, the time for philosophy is over. Men have to make a stand that they are not going to allow their Mother's their Daughters, their Sisters, there Female friends to be treated this way. World-wide. Period.

    I made that stand when I tried to stop my father from beating my mother when I was eight years old -- and he back-handed me across the room. I decided at that time that I could be good to women and protect the women in my life. I challenge all the men here on this blog to do the same.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.


  • Comment number 21.

    "on 03 Aug 2010, michael_kwabena wrote:
    As African women get more and more ECONOMICALLY empowered, domestic violence would decrease, but then rates of marriage itself will decline."

    Too right, because women will no longer have to depend on an abusive husband to take care of her and her family. She will be able to do it herself. Women will be (and should be) more confident and have a voice as to what they want and dont want. And domestiv violence is something that nobody should put up with. Education = qualification = job = money = finacial independence = FREEDOM


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