Monday, 16 August 2010

"Unprotected sex" constitutes assault?

It was interesting to here a BBC radio news report of singer Nadja Benaissa's trial on charges of causing grievous bodily harm, and attempted grievous bodily harm. It glibly referred to "unprotected sex" and "taking precautions", by which I read (sorry, heard) it as referring to not using, or using condoms. Of course, the mortal sin in today's world is not that Ms Benaissa appears to have undertaken some "loose living", as one might say, but that she hasn't "taken precautions" whilst doing so. Now, it isn't right for others to adopt a superior, moralising tone about this, as we should all acknowledge our own sinfulness; but, on the other hand, it is not wrong to point out the re-orientation of moral values that has taken place here. I think we should reflect on the moral value of Ms Benaissa's actions here, independently of the question of the transmission of the HIV virus, rather than just ignoring the question of moral valuing that attaches to them. From the point of view of Catholic teaching, for example, they would be seen as morally wrong, a view that I think would be shared by some who are not Catholics.

I wonder what the situation would be if Ms Benaissa had used condoms, but one of her sexual partners had still become infected? I haven't yet come across a prosecution in this situation - if a reader out there knows of one, please let me know. Would it still be seen as constituting grievous bodily harm? The BBC report does question the appropriateness of prosecutions such as that of Ms Benaissa, pointing out that life expectancy after HIV/AIDS infection in developed countries is now very good. AIDS campaigners are concerned about the stigma attaching to HIV/AIDS as a result of laws and prosecutions of this kind.

One can readily see a wisdom in suggesting that the appropriate course of action of a person who is HIV positive is to remain celibate. This represents a generous choice, made in the genuine interest of the other person involved.

But that is perhaps too much for today's society, sponsored by Durex et al, to take....

1 comment:

Joe said...

An after-thought:

One might also reflect on the moral value of the decisions of Ms Benaissa's sexual partners, and ask whether or not they too should accept some responsibility for the outcome.