19 October 2011

Can Yueyue Inspire Pinoys to Care More?

Almost everyone I know find it utterly cruel when a helpless and dying 2-year old Chinese girl was lying in the middle of the street in a pool of blood and yet and nobody rushed to her rescue. It was an example of sheer apathy and lack of concern for the 18 people who walked right past her without lifting a single finger.

The girl, Yueyue, is now in hospital and has regained some sensation in her limbs after she was run over – twice – by a van and then a lorry in the southern Chinese city of Foshan over the weekend.

The incident had me thinking if the same thing had happened or could happen in the Philippines? Culturally, I know that Filipinos are a caring group of people that regard each life as a precious gift that must be protected and nurtured. However, there are already signs that political apathy is slowly creeping inside Filipino consciousness when supporters of the corrupt administrations of the Marcoses and Arroyos try to look the other way while corruption and poverty thrive all around them. Could the same apathy extend at the micro level, specifically if it concerns women and children?

Based on police records physical abuse is the most common violation committed against women. Incidences of sexual abuse and emotional abuse likewise are increasing. Statistics also showed that sexual abuse, specifically attempted rape, constituted the bulk of cases of violence against children that were reported to the PNP. Physical injuries came in second.

Another disturbing fact is that children in especially difficult circumstances or those needing special protection are estimated at 2.9 million. Children in this situation are either physically, sexually or emotionally abused; exploited sexually and in hazardous labour conditions; in conflict with the law; and victims of other forms of abuse like drug abuse, drug sales, child trafficking and abduction.

Now, you may ask, what does all of this information have to do with your own children who are securely fastened in the dining chairs of your elegant homes, or walled inside exclusive schools? Here lies the real dilemma: As long as your wife and children are safe, you think that women and child abuses are things that happen to other unfortunate folks. And so what if a child dies in the street?

It is precisely this apathy to women and children in the streets, the standard mentality that "this only happens to people who are not taking care of themselves" that could feed more power to the abusers and promote pathetic behaviour.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Yueyue's father lamented, "What's up with people these days? They make so many excuses to turn a blind eye. The society is so indifferent, so heartless."

While we sit inside the comforts of our homes, let us pause for a moment for introspection. If our pet cats and dogs get better treatment, why not extend this concern to our fellow human being, especially the vulnerable women and children.