WOW. I’m so thankful and taken about being asked to become a
contributor. I promise to try not to clutter the blog with my postings
as has occasionally happened with the comments. I also apologise for my less than perfect English in advance. I’ve often wondered
what I would write if I got the chance. I’m nervous but here it goes.
The topic of this posting is influenced by the previous discussion about decision procedures and by this
If I were raped today
article in today’s Guardian. It’s Julie Bindel’s touching piece on how rape victims are treated in the UK currently.
As a philosophers and ethicist one is often at loss in the ‘real world’. You see very real and tragical ethical dilemmas. Given that you have some knowledge of moral theories and ethical thinking you think that you would have some tools, probably short of decision procedures, to cope with these problems. But, when you look at the often very sad cases, you quickly notice that you don’t. This makes you feel even worse. Bindel’s article is an excellent illustration of this.
Bindel says this in her article
"[A] couple of years ago I made a pact with myself, which I vowed never to
reveal publicly. At this juncture I feel I must, though: if I was raped
now, I do not think I would report it to the police."
Now, the question is did she do right in breaking the pact with herself or should she not reveal what she really thinks about the issue? No matter how I think about this, the less sure I am about what to think. And, the more I think about the case the more outraged I become both of the facts of the case and my inability to make a sound judgment.
Bindel has good reasons to say what she says. As awful as it is, it does seem to make sense not to report being raped in the UK currently. Like she says, rape victims risk of being identified, vilified and even criminalised. Only a one in four men are convicted as a result of complaints. The police treats rape victims often with suspision and contempt. As a result, it does seem like a sound advice from Bindel to say that ‘do as I say, do not report rape’.
On the other hand, admitting the state of affairs and giving this advice seems to risk creating even worse circumstances. Some men may see this as a license for rape. What consequences can there be if the women are not even going to report the crime? As a result, there may be even more rape incidents. So, even if it would be wise for women not to report rape in the horrendous circumstances, maybe it would be right not to say this in public.
So, was Bindel right to say what she said publicly? I’m at true loss. I don’t know. I don’t even know how to begin to think about this. Thinking about any ethical theory seems to be so out of place even if it lead somewhere. Were I an utilitarian, I could begin to construct an utilitarian calculus. I know in advance that I could not do this satisfactorily. As a contractualist, I would probably have to think about the worse objection, but I’m not sure how that helps in this case. Kantian would probably say that she is breaking a promise to herself which is always wrong but that doesn’t seem to be a good answer either. Any ideas about what to say? I haven’t got a clue. After ten years of studying philosophy. I would really like to know the opinion of our fellow PEA souper Laurie Shrage.