It is shocking when people are aware of the abuse and Domestic Violence; but prefer not to 'interfere' because it is a personal matter.
But, INSTIGATORS and ACCOMPLICES of abuse and Violence are MANY.
All ACTS, are either acts of Commission and Omission.
Neighbours knew about Francis Gomes' Abuse,torture & Violence; but did not act and kept silent
2 October 2009
NAIGAON: Francis Gomes's ill-treatment of his wife Theresa and three daughters - Elizabeth, Barbara and Geneviev - was known to the residents of all the buildings the family has stayed in since they came to Naigaon. But neighbours considered it too personal a matter to interfere."I wanted to help, but feared that they might back out. If only the mother or daughters had hinted that they wanted to get out of his clutches, we would have helped,'' said Caroline Almeida, the sole neighbour of Gomes at Citizen Snowdrop Co-operative Housing Society, Naigaon (E).
Gomes purchased a third floor flat in A wing 11 years ago. He sold his flat at Four Bungalows, Andheri, in 1998 and shifted to the one-bedroom apartment at Naigaon. At the time, he was the only resident in his entire wing.
"He was known to be strict with his wife and daughters,'' said Jerry Rodrigues, secretary of the building. Gomes never attended society meetings nor did he interact with any one. "He had covered the windows of his flat with plastic sheets so that no one could see his wife and daughters,'' said Rodrigues's wife Rita. The rooms of the flat were visible if one stood on the terrace. Gomes would take objection to anyone going to the terrace.
The Almeidas, who came to stay in the adjacent flat when their daughter Rachel was three, were shocked by Gomes's behaviour. "Gomes's daughters were fond of Rachel, now eight. Once, when she went to their house, he chased her out,'' said Sunil Almeida.
Caroline said the girls were terrorised by their father. "Even when leaving home, he would ensure that no one was on the stairs,'' said Caroline. "Nuns and youth groups attempted to reason with Gomes, but he was adamant. He insisted it was a family matter and no one had the right to interfere,'' said a resident.
Initially, Gomes would take his wife and daughters to the church at Don Bosco School and Junior College in the neighbourhood. "But that stopped. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, had already begun losing her mental balance. In church, she would sit and talk to herself and make weird gestures.'' Locality members did consider calling an NGO , but never got down to doing it, said a church member.
According to Rodrigues, society members had tried to talk to Gomes about his behaviour. "But he would never open the door. We would ring the door bell and return disappointed,'' said Rodrigues. All that the residents could hear was Gomes singing the rosary every day and screams of his wife and daughters when he beat them.
He used to walk his daughters to St Anthony School in Bhayander (W) and pick them up on their return. "The girls would walk up to Naigaon station on the east side, which is quite a distance, and cross over to the west. We found it strange but dared not ask,'' said Rodrigues. Gomes sold the flat in 2007 for Rs 4.25 lakh. From Snowdrop, Gomeses moved to Mariam Park Co-operative Housing Society, Pali, in Naigaon (W). However, within three months, he had to leave as the society found his behaviour objectionable.
"He would lock the family. Sensing trouble, the society members decided to remove him,'' said neighbour, Subroto Purkayastha. A foul smell would always emanate from Gomes's first-floor flat, he added. "Once, when drinking water had to be collected from the building compound, Theresa came with her can. I helped her carry it till the door. There was no interaction beyond that,'' he said.
When they shifted to Neelamba Housing Society, Amol Nagar, Naigaon (W) in June this year, their only neighbour Bindu Varghese did not even know that the girls stayed in that house. "The mother would stand at the balcony and eat raw rice. I never knew that girls stayed in the house,'' he said. Residents of the opposite wing would hear sounds of beating and crying, but never had the courage to find out what was happening. Gomes had taken the flat on a rent of Rs 2,000 a month.
HE used to bring Theresa and his daughters to Cardinal Gracious Hospital for treatment. "I knew Barbara from college, but when she visited the hospital she did not seem to recognise me. I found it strange that both Barbara and Elizabeth did not speak a word,'' said a friend.