Two times now, I've seen it happen. Twice, I've seen men, ordinary-looking chaps, verbally and physically abuse the women with them. While people around them did nothing.
One man was young, he had an identity tag. He wore formal pants, nice stout shoes. I saw him kick the young woman with him, straight in the gut, with those shoes. His companion was in burkha but she seemed young.
The other man was older. He harangued the woman with him loudly and crudely. He spat at her, followed her when she tried to walk away. Shook her by the shoulders, repeatedly.
Both men did this at a public park, in full view of dozens of people milling around. Walkers walked, joggers jogged, various men lounged about, sat around. The onlookers watched the two men do these terrible things. And they did nothing.
I am not a brave person. In my heart I was terribly afraid--that if I confront them, they could hurt me, find out where I live, hurt my family. But I was ashamed to stand by and watch. So both times, I went up them, asked them to stop. I told them I would call the police (both times, the beat police were conspicuous by their absence).
And in both instances, the women asked me to leave. To just let it be. In fact, I probably made things worse for those women by intervening. If the men could behave like this in public, just think of what they are capable of, in the privacy of their homes.
Why didn't any of the others step in to help? Why didn't they stop those men? Why?