The death of a toddler in the hands of an abusive mother last week has been a wakeup call for the country in numerous ways. Since then there has been an influx of reports of abuse from across the country. Numerous cases of child mistreatment, neglect and endangerment are being brought to the attention of authorities, every day since the tragic event.
However, the question that now surfaces is how long this sudden increase in social responsibility would last. As much as one would like to be optimistic, we have seen too many such incidences where social responsibility becomes a “trend” after such a tragedy, only to be replaced by some other trend.
This last incident showed a lot of Maldivians that what we brush off “as none of our business” could cause unimaginable consequences. It is inspirational that the masses seem to have made up their minds that they would never let such an incident be repeated due to lack of initiative on their part.
However, social responsibility should not be limited to the rights of the child. We as individuals have been granted so many rights by the Constitution. We have the right to freedom of life, education, health, trade etc. But one important thing that we seem to forget is that each of these rights comes hand in hand with responsibilities.
For every person working to ensure that our rights are not violated, there is a person who works to ensure that he can violate the rights of an individual and take undue advantages from it.
More often than not, when a crime is committed, lawyers for the victim of the crime are often unable to find witnesses who are willing to come forward for the prosecution, citing that there is no use in putting their own lives in danger just for the sake of finding justice for another. In other words, we are willing to make sure that our rights are protected, but hesitant to help another stand up for his right.
We as responsible citizens should not just ensure that our rights are not violated, but also ensure that we do not violate the rights of another. Moreover we should ensure that we voice our concerns, if we are aware of someone else’s rights being violated.
The step that society seems to have taken in repentance of the community’s indifference to the suffering of an abused child seems to be, a step taken in the right direction. Let us hope that this is not a “trend”, but a step towards the betterment of society.
If such social vigilance is in place, crime rates would go down, without burdening the capacity of detention facilities across the country. Criminals would be hesitant to attack a community where such social vigilance has taken root.
We cannot abolish crime, but we can unite to abolish the culture of indifference that is shredding our country’s social fabric.