We’re adept at masking inconsistencies from ourselves

In pleasanter news than most of what I’ve shared today, Rebecca Goldstein talks to The Humanist about Plato at the Googleplex.

The Humanist: Can you say more about how philosophy benefits humanity?

Goldstein: We’re adept at masking inconsistencies from ourselves, most especially moral inconsistencies, since they make it easier for us to act in ways that we want to. At its best, philosophy exposes presumptions that we’re not aware we harbor—presumptions that nonetheless influence our judgments and actions. It examines whether these presumptions are justifiable and consistent with other beliefs and attitudes we’ve committed ourselves to.

The Humanist: Unmasking moral inconsistencies: this is where your notion of “mattering” comes in, correct?

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Heaping unbound shame on her family

Ruzwana Bashir is upset about the media focus on the abuse of white girls while under-reporting the abuse of Asian girls by Asian adult men. She shares her story in hopes of tearing down the wall of silence and encouraging others to do the same.

She was abused by a neighbor in Skipton at the age of 10; she felt too much shame to say anything. Years later she went back to testify against him.

When I first told my mother about the abuse I’d suffered, she was absolutely devastated. The root of her anger was clear: I was heaping unbound shame on to my family by trying to bring the perpetrator to justice. In trying to stop him from exploiting more children, I was ensuring my parents and my siblings would be ostracised. She begged me not to go to the police station.

How appalling is that? The shame would have been on them, so she should have kept quiet and let him go on abusing other children.

If I’d still been living in Skipton, surrounded by a community who would either blame me for the abuse or label me a liar, I’m not sure I could have rejected her demands.

Once the police began the investigation another victim came forward. Sohail described how he too had been abused almost 20 years before I was. Due to our combined testimony, the perpetrator was jailed for eight years.

So that’s some children who had time to grow up in his absence, free of abuse.

Within a few weeks another young woman in the community, emboldened by the conviction, told the police that a relative had raped her for several years. It had started before Sara was in her teens. We have supported her through the process of taking this to court.

Although Sohail and I had removed a proven paedophile from the community and helped empower another woman to end her torture, we were not celebrated. On the contrary, we were shunned.

She found out that some people had known about the neighbor all along, and done nothing. His many victims had refused to testify against him.

Much has been made about the religious background of the offenders in the Rotherham report. But this problem isn’t about religion race: it’s about a culture where notions of shame result in the blaming of victims rather than perpetrators.

Although painful to read, the Rotherham report presents an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for leaders in the British-Pakistani community to stand up and speak out about the sexual and physical abuse in their midst. The Asian community isn’t unique in having evil-doers, and the overwhelming majority of its men and women are good people who care about protecting others.

I am and always will be proud of my Pakistani heritage, but I firmly believe community leaders must take responsibility for the fact that the taboos that prevent others from identifying perpetrators and supporting victims enable further abuse. And those taboos must be challenged.

She has suggestions of things that need doing in the future.

The biggest risk of this terrible situation is that once the shock of this report dissipates, it will get swept under the rug, just like three previous reports in Rotherham. We cannot let that happen. We don’t need any further reports: we need system-wide change in the way we approach fighting sexual abuse against children of all backgrounds. This is not a problem in Rotherham or a problem in Oxford or a problem in Rochdale. This is a problem in the United Kingdom. And we need to tackle it together.

Tackle means tackle, not bury.

For a long and painful time

From last December, Huma Munshi talks to Lifting the Veil about the concepts of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’

Huma is a writer and poet who writes on many issues including feminism and tackling ‘honour’ based violence. She sees writing as a means to connect with others and healing. She tweets at @Huma101

She started #fuckhonour and #fuckshame hashtags on Twitter; here she explains her thinking.

Muslim Women’s Network launched a report, entitled Unheard Voices, in autumn of this year describing the prevalence of young Asian, Muslim girls being sexually abused. There were a number of things that made me extremely angry but what led me to start the “#fuckhonour” hashtag was the concept of ‘honour’ to victim blame[1] and silence young girls who had been victims of abuse. [Read more...]

One more horror

One more horror out of the many every hour of every day.

Dr. Rou’aa Diab was a dentist in the Deir ez-Zor Governate city of Al-Mayadeen, located on the border of Iraq.  Two days ago, she [was] arrested by the Islamic State, along with 4 others, and summarily executed. The reasoning for the execution was under the crime of “treating male patients” – a crime she was not tried for in a court room. Dr. Diab’s death has sparked anger in the historical city of Al-Mayadeen, an area where the Islamic State continues to assert its governance over.

A dentist – murdered for treating patients. You know what life would be like without dentists? Very nasty, that’s what.

 

Police regarded the victims with contempt

Shaheen Hashmat says the Rotherham report struck a note of personal horror for her.

I’m a Pakistani woman born and raised in Scotland, as part of a Muslim family. And, at the age of 12, I relied on the help of police and local authorities to help me escape from honour abuse and the threat of forced marriage. As a result of my experiences, I now dedicate most of my spare time to raising awareness of these issues. I’m currently working to establish a free mental health service for those who have suffered similar abuses.

Doing the work she does, she’s learned that rape victims get a terrible time if they report their rape. [Read more...]

The weapon recoiled and she lost control

There was that grotesque incident on Monday, at an “Outdoor Machine Gun Adventure” in the Mojave Desert not far from Las Vegas.

A 9-year-old girl at a shooting range outside Las Vegas accidentally killed an instructor on Monday morning when she lost control of the Uzi he was showing her how to use.

The girl, whose name wasn’t released, visited the outdoor shooting range while vacationing with her parents. She’d fired the 9mm weapon, designed for use by the Israeli defense forces in the 1940s, several times in single-shot mode. But when it was set to fully automatic, the weapon recoiled and she lost control.

[Read more...]

The pursuit of the norm

Republicans explain to non-Republican women how they are wrong to be non-Republican women. The tl;dr is that all such women are 35 and single and therefore in a deep funk of self-loathing because they know they should be married; if they were Republicans they would be married. It’s hard to see a flaw, isn’t it.

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things (a journal that promotes “economic freedom” and a “morally serious culture”), published a very helpful essay illustrating how this fresh new strategy might work in practice. Reno begins his piece with a richly-drawn portrait of a hypothetical female Democratic voter: She is a “single, 35-year-old McKinsey consultant living in suburban Chicago who thinks of herself as vulnerable and votes for enhanced social programs designed to protect against the dangers and uncertainties of life.” [Read more...]

Five doctors, nurses, and hospital staffers

This is very sad, on many levels.

Five doctors, nurses, and hospital staffers who are co-credited as authors of a paper about Ebola published today in Science have already died of the disease, the publication says. All five worked at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, and all were “experienced members of the hospital’s Lassa fever team.” (Lassa fever is “a hemorrhagic illness with many symptoms similar to Ebola.”)

One of the victims was Sheik Umar Khan, the doctor supervising Sierra Leone’s Ebola response, whose death last month was widely reported.

Three of the victims were infected while caring for another colleague of theirs who contracted the virus while pregnant, Science says. One of those victims, Mbalu Fonnie, was the nursing supervisor of the hospital’s Lassa fever ward and had survived a Lassa fever infection.

Just awful.

 

A win for polygyny

A federal judge in Utah struck down part of the state’s ban on polygamy as unconstitutional yesterday.

US district judge Clark Waddoups ruled in December that a section of Utah law that prohibits “cohabitation” violates the Constitution’s religious freedom and privacy protections. He reaffirmed this decision in his Wednesday ruling, in which he also provided attorney’s fees to the plaintiff, Kody Brown, a star of TLC reality show Sister Wives.

A law against cohabitation does sound very intrusive. On the other hand what if it’s just a euphemism for a certain kind of exploitation? [Read more...]