In Saint Paul, Minnesota, there was a physical assault and alleged rape where up to 10 people allegedly did nothing to help. This case has been compared by some bloggers to the murder of Kitty Genovese.
The events of this case occurred in the hallway of an apartment building where most of the residents are Somali -- a detail that to some people is highly significant in a very negative way.
When I first read about the story, it was clearly spun that the man's physical attack including an alleged rape wasn't the worst part of the story. The horror was reserved for all the other residents of this apartment building. One blogger has labeled them immigrant pigs.
But something bothered me about the spin applied to this case in the very first story I read about it.
If nobody did anything then why did the police get there while the attack was still in progress? Whoever called didn't know what was happening was as serious as rape so this is proof that nobody there cared?
[Rage] Ibrahim says he is innocent and that the incident was a misunderstanding, according to Omar Jamal, the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, who spoke on Ibrahim's behalf.
A misunderstanding? Isn't that what many people say when they slam women who report being raped by "nice" young blue-eyed American men who claim the sex was consensual? In this case, he says she was going to drive drunk and he was trying to take the keys from her.
If we must give the "nice" guys the benefit of the doubt until all the evidence comes in and is evaluated then we must do the same thing here. There is a surveillance video but I assume there is no sound.
A man who is listed among those who allegedly did nothing says he made a 911 call in response to the woman's pleas, but there is no record of that call. I've seen claims on other blogs that this means this man is lying, but that is a premature assumption at best.
I've also seen the suggestion that the man did something wrong by not opening his apartment door, but would you open the door when there was a violent man on the other side? The best protection for him and for this woman is to call 911. The man says he did so and we need to believe that is possible until it has been disproven.
If anything, this case shows how often people view "relationship" violence as less serious or somehow justified. Also because the woman was being loud and physical (as many people say all rape victims must be), many people assumed that the violence was mutual. Hence we get the call about drunken behavior and not an assault in progress.
Other cases where rape victims needed help and didn't get it from those who see what is happening are often overlooked or given just a brief mention. I'm afraid they are appallingly common. We have a recent case in Glasgow, Scotland, where a woman unsuccessfully tried to flag down cars. Pattern's the same, but no outrage.
The problem is certainly much larger and more pervasive than one apartment building or one group of people.