What is the moral responsibility of eyewitnesses to render assistance to a victim of a murder or an accident?

Dear Editor,

Imagine you’re a mother and you’re watching your son brutally beating a child to death, what would you do? Would you risk your life to save that child? Again, imagine you’re an older brother and you’re watching your younger brother brutalise a child, would you risk your life to save that child? Once more, imagine you’re a neighbour and you are witnessing a child being brutally treated, would you risk your life to save that child? Well, imagine no more because not long ago, a teenager was murdered allegedly by her boyfriend, and none of the witnesses risked their lives to save the girl.

It is sad to say but some Guyanese don’t believe that they have a moral responsibility to help a person being murdered or robbed or who is in need of medical help.

Not too long ago, I personally experienced this lack of empathy of people. As I was walking one day, I witnessed a car accident. The victim was unconscious and bleeding very badly. At the same time about 30 eyewitnesses were arguing with the driver about whose fault it was for the accident.

I told these witnesses that now is not the time to debate who caused the accident. Now is the time for us to get the victim to a hospital immediately or the victim will die. When I tried to get these people to use their car to take the victim to the hospital, no one wanted to use their car because the victim was bleeding profusely. And the blood would dirty their nice clean car.

After waiting about 30 minutes to get a car to take the victim to the hospital, no one was willing to help me to put the victim in the car because the victim was bleeding, and no one wants to get blood on themselves because they were scared they may get AIDS.

When we finally arrived at the hospital, there was no hospital staff  member or stretcher available to help me take the victim inside. The security guard told me, “This is a help yourself hospital.” By the time the victim got medical help, it was too late. The victim was dead. I remember thinking what a sad country I’m living in and what unsympathetic and uncaring people I’m living among. No one cares.

Editor, the question that I’d like someone to answer is this: did the witnesses to the teenager’s murder have a moral obligation to help her? Did the witnesses to the accident have a moral obligation to take the victim to a hospital?

Are the witnesses to this girl and the accident victim’s death morally responsible for their death because they failed to provide assistance?

Yours faithfully,
Anthony Pantlitz

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