Not so silent scream…

Stop talkingIllustration 147365356 © Archivector – Dreamstime.com

We have new neighbours in our Belgian abode. We know them intimately even though we haven’t met them yet.  And no…we are not twitching curtains and peeking through our very high and dense hedge…

In my home life, my preference is for a quiet life.  Over in the coastal reaches, I know my neighbours…just enough. In fact, we are closer together (by way of meters) than we are in Belgium. We exchange pleasantries. Keep an eye out for each other, each other’s parcels, pets and parents… and, generally life proceeds at a reasonable volume and we all get along.

Can’t say the same for Mr. Angry and his wife/partner/concubine (her status varies…) who, in the land of Ned (a.k.a. Flanders) have moved in next door! Even with hermetically sealed windows, pouring rain and a fair offshore wind from Zeebrugge, we can still hear them screaming at each other. I don’t mean ‘a bit loud’. I mean blood-curdling, ear-splitting invective!!

word for word…

some words you really don’t want to hear…

Don’t get me wrong…all couples disagree.  And yes, they argue. Sometimes voices are raised and frustration is expressed. That is of course part and parcel of married life, or life in general…

This is not what is happening here!

Under other circumstances, I would probably turn my stereo on max, light the fire and generally ignore what was going on with other people. Believe me, I have enough of my own shizzle to deal with.  In this case, I am seriously concerned. 

He is a dangerous man. She gives as good as she gets. And perhaps we should leave it there?

I can’t.

She is also pregnant, and already has two very small boys who are routinely screamed at by both of them…because that is how you parent, don’t you? 

Half my readers will berate me for judging. The other half for not having kids of my own. Well, I may not be a biological parent…or a judge… but I am a human being. For me, this is not ok. It’s not ok whether you are a kid, or a grown up. It’s not ok on so many levels!!!

Which creates a dilemma for me…

I am concerned for the small people who have to experience this as regular life.

  • No, it is not normal for you to be told you are a ‘ball-sack’ when you are three years old!
  • No, it is not normal for you to be screamed at for jumping in the inflatable pool when it’s boiling hot outside.
  • No, it is not normal for the adults in your life to make you feel scared, unsafe and at fault.

I am concerned for her unborn child, and for her – seriously, if alcohol affects your foetus, why would stress hormones be any different?

And yes… I am concerned that her partner/husband/ass-clown (his status varies…) will move from verbal abuse to physical abuse.

What do I do?

Here are some facts*,**:

  • * Up to 36 per cent of women in Belgium have been assaulted physically or sexually.
  • And although the study shows that Belgium is about average in the EU when it comes to abuse, it was at the top when it came to violence committed in the past year.
  • Preliminary findings** show that more than 35% of all murders of women globally are reported to be committed by an intimate partner (husband/partner/ass-clown)

All of this troubles me. Despite advice to ‘leave it alone’ and ‘don’t get involved’.

I can’t.

I am resolved not to be the neighbour who ignored the silent screams.

* Source: European Agency for Fundamental Rights  ** Source: World Health Organisation: Femicide

 

 

 

 

Weskus…

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Image: Chiromancer

30 Day Challenge

Day#5. Weskus. Today, I’m missing my roots and in unusually contemplative mood. Unlike Isak Dinesen, I don’t have a farm in Africa, but I do have a patch of land that keeps me tied to a fabulous spot on a great continent. In the ups and downs of the last 10 years, I have been close to having to sell it many times, but somehow it stayed with me because I could not let it go. It was mine, wholly and truly. This year, although I don’t need to sell it, I will – with a smidgeon of reluctance and a dash of bitter-sweet sadness. I am saying goodbye to my little piece of the West Coast so that someone else can realise their dreams by buying my plot. I promise to visit there one more time before I do.

One born every minute…

I’m really beginning to think I live in a time-warp.  Watching the news, I couldn’t help thinking of events some 20 years ago. A corporate scandal involving a newspaper magnate whose surname also began with M, rioting in Northern Ireland and kwashiorkor babies.  Sometimes the more the world turns, the more it remains the same.

It’s heartbreakingly sad to see infants and children arrive at the refuge camps across the horn of Africa – only to die of malnutrition when they get there. It’s heartbreakingly sad to see not one or two children in this predicament, but five or six per family. These small creatures cannot speak for or defend themselves.  Their mothers are no better off.  Illiterate, poor, often victims of rape – for these oppressed women, family planning is not an option. The loss of one child is unbearable, the loss of two or three, when this could be avoided….

It’s a complex situation, and I don’t claim to have the answers.  Still, I can’t help wondering if our charitable contributions are merely adding to a culture of dependency in an environment where climate change and civil war have wreaked havoc.  If there is money to fund the warlords in Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, why isn’t there enough to provide irrigation schemes or green energy? 

Instead of food aid, would our money would be better served funding education and contraception programmes for the women and children in such peril?  Though laudable, the charity cartels (think Oxfam, Unicef and Save the Children) have sewn up crisis response in sub-saharan Africa.  There is money to be made from suffering.  And if you think I’m being harsh, just check out the profit and loss accounts of these organisations. They have turnover and assets worth millions! Charity doesn’t even begin to describe it.

 I’m undecided whether I will donate to the latest DEC appeal. Are we are simply trying to hold back the flood by putting our fingers in the dyke? Or can our donations truly make a difference? The Dalai Lama said, ‘compassion and love are essential if we are to save humanity’. From a human perspective, it feels like the right thing to do.

You can find out more about famine relief and DEC by clicking here:
http://www.dec.org.uk
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/696803.stm