Silence.

Descartes was convinced that it was speech that set humans apart from other animals.  Speech was what allowed humans to become dominant on the planet.  Then why do we use this talent talking about trivial things, what we are wearing, who is playing second for the Cardinals, what we had for breakfast, but when it comes to the important things, the life changing things, the traumatic things. . .

Silence.

For years, mass rape of women and children had been used as a weapon of war in areas like Darfur, Bosnia, and Liberia.  For years after formal violence ended, mass rapes have continued.  We have a wrod to describe such horrific acts: unspeakable.

Silence.

Inspred by New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof's documentation of the continued mass rape of young girls in Liberia, Sheril Kirshenbaum that there had been enough silence and launched an initiative called Silence is the Enemy:
Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why?  Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help.  We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them.  I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.

In regions where fighting has formally ended, rape continues to be used as a weapon. As Nicholas Kristof recently wrote from West Africa, ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ The war has shattered norms, training some men to think that ‘when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.’ An International Rescue Committee survey suggests 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way over the previous 18 months.  Further, of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated Jan-April by Doctors Without Borders, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12. That’s 61% age 12 or under.  We read about their plight and see the figures, but it’s so easy to feel helpless to act in isolation. But these are not statistics, they are girls.  Together we can do more.  Mass rape persists because of inertia so let’s create momentum.
Take a moment to join the Silence is the Enemy Facebook group.

Or, write a blog posting and join the Silence is the Enemy blog coalition (e-mail Sheril).

Now, having joined the worthy cause, you might ask how this has anything to do with science?  In the public view, science does not have a good reputation when it comes to ethics.  Based upon the idiotically simple view of evolution as the cliched "Nature red in tooth and claw," many believe that making science the basis of society would lead to some horrific social Darwinist "kill or be killed" anarchy, in which these mass rapes become some sick expression of "survival of the fittest" (yet another cliche). 

In fact, our understanding of science gives us every reason to be opposed to mass rapes based without considering ethics, which can vary wdely from person to person and society to society.  With the goal of bringing a new and broadening perspective to this discussion, the following list will not include the basic principle of legal ethics, secular humanism, and religious morality that all people have equal dignity and basic human rights.  Essentially, all of the following should have ". . .and because it is just wrong" amended to the end.

1. It is not possible to have a productive and stable society in which there is widespread rape.  Contract enforcement is essential to a productive and stable society, even in the absence of a controlling government authority.  In a society where one individual can take what they want from another individual without mutual agreement, the underpinnings of a productive and stable society do not exist.

2. Widespread rape reduces the efficiency of selection in a population.  Rape eliminates an important mechanism of selection, female mate choice.  In addition, it does both mental and physical damage to young girls prior to reproductive age that could negatively effect their reproductive fitness.

3. No, this does not mean that rape is not harmful if only practiced upon females of "low" phenotypic value because it would lead to an assortative mating problem that reduces genetic variation, which is harmful to a populations ability to respond to changes in the environment. 

4. Widespread rape creates an extreme local environment to which human behavior will adapt.  Those adaptations, however, will be counterproductive outside that local environment making it much less likely for individuals or the society to succeed in the wider world, leading to further isolation and eventual failure.

So, to sum up, who wouldn't support Silence is the Enemy?  Only ignorant, unethical, unscientific assholes.  You aren't an ignorant, unethical, unscientific asshole, are you?

*Hat tip to Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer. 

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