I’m thinking of a country like Afghanistan where its openly accepted to have young boys as concubines or in other countries where girls are married off to old men. Or other countries with child prostitution. Or in countries where they deliberately blind or maim children so they can earn money as beggers.
Just what kind of people would do such a thing? They are children. I look at a childs face, any child, no matter what color they are and I just want to protect them. Why would a decent member of a society stand back and watch a child raped and abused? Surely these people have children of their own. Dont all humans have a basic instinct to protect the innocent?
It’s always hard on a person when he realizes that people are in fact NOT basically good. That idea is a myth created by civilization. Many, many people, if left to themselves, will willingly and even gleefully express cruelty, depraved desires, and assorted other impulses that are suppressed only by the threat of punishment.
The vast majority of human groups, from small tribes to fairly sophisticated cities, have not shown any desire to punish some of those behaviors. Mankind in his unimproved state is a savage, vicious creature. Nor does civilization cure those impulses–it only attempts to prevent the outward manifestation of them. It cannot touch the underlying tendencies.
These things happen in societies where life has little value. A select few may have lives of value as we would see it. The rest are disposable, lucky to be alive at all, and must be in some way useful to the select few to stay alive, otherwise they are disposable. Those that are disgusted by rapists will not act, protecting their own lives and their families is all they can manage already. The word ‘society’ hardly seems to apply to this situation, it is chaotic anarchy and there is no force to hold back the worst of behavior.
They don’t. It’s like asking how a society lives with rapists or murderers. As the NYT report also pointed out civilians complained about the abuse of their children by warlords, warlords who were protected by the United States.
Moreover, we can see from historical records that most ancient societies didn’t recognize the concept of marital rape or sexual autonomy for women and children. It was generally considered normal to be sexually attracted (heterosexually, at least) to post-pubescent young adolescents.
So, short answer: throughout human history, some forms of what we now consider sexual abuse and exploitation were not always recognized as such, but considered normal parts of life. Other forms were widely rejected and denounced but nonetheless practiced by people powerful enough to get away with them.
And no, there is no universal human “instinct” independent of cultural context that automatically identifies the young and/or powerless as “innocents” who are entitled to “protection”.
If by that you mean, wouldn’t humans instinctively band together to defend themselves as a group from immediate dangers from predators etc., then yeah, maybe. (Although surely there are lots of humans who in the stress of the moment would just try to save themselves and/or their nearest and dearest and to hell with the rest of the group?)
But even if that’s so, humans aren’t spending all of their time coping with immediate and severe threats to their survival. When danger’s not overwhelming and imminent, most people are more focused on their own desires and enjoyment than on the well-being of their “group” as a whole.
Well not me per se but as a society as we bring attention to such problems they are being dealt with.
Consider child prostitution. I’ve read that because of international efforts of bringing shame onto countries the authorities have stepped in to outlaw it. For example in some SE Asian countries like Cambodia there have been police crackdowns. In Afghanistan international pressure has at least forced it to underground. India seems to be making progress not only against selling children into marriage but also into stopping abuse.