I attend a philosophy club meeting on Wednesdays. During the past two weeks I heard the same argument from two different people. We were discussing the treatment of women in Islamic countries and the argument went something like this: There is a much lower incidence of cancer among these women, this can be attributed to the reduced amount of stress because they are not working/competing in the labor market, so we should not presume that women are treated badly in Islamic countries.
I have a few problems with this argument. It assumes that stress is the primary cause of cancer. As an aside, I am a bit horrified to learn that this argument came from a person working at a cancer treatment center. Take some radiation, quit your job, call me in the morning. Another problem I have is the willingness to overlook mistreatment, so long as the mistreated don't get cancer. Suppose the incidence of cancer were found to be lower among the slave population in the south. Would we then have to conclude that slavery is OK and who are we to question another culture?