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October 10, 2015 7:54 PM   Subscribe

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

U.S. military accused of telling soldiers to overlook Afghan abuse of boys [Autoplaying Video]
The two U.S. soldiers say they used physical force to drive home their message to the Afghan police commander who had been sexually abusing a boy.

"I picked him up, threw him to the ground multiple times and Charles did the same thing," Dan Quinn, who was a U.S. Army captain at the time, told CNN. "We basically had to make sure that he fully understood that if he ever went near that boy or his mother again, there was going to be hell to pay."

The actions of Quinn and the other soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, against the American-backed police commander displeased their superiors in the U.S. military.

Quinn says he and Martland were relieved of their duties shortly afterward. Quinn has since left the military and Martland is now being involuntarily separated from the Army.
Family of murdered Marine suing military over alleged cover-up
The New York family's lawsuit accuses the department of hiding details surrounding Buckley's death. His father says supervisors ignored warnings and allowed an unsavory Afghan police chief named Sarwar Jan to live on the base. Jan allegedly was involved in selling drugs, uniforms and weapons to the Taliban and brought young so-called "tea boys" on post to serve as sex slaves. It was one of those alleged "tea boys" who opened fire on the Marines that day in 2012. The shooter, 17 years old at the time, was convicted and sentenced to seven years.


Top commander [GEN John Campbell] in Afghanistan urges troops to report sex abuse
Military officials on Tuesday stepped up their rebuttal to the claim by some U.S. troops that an American policy encouraged them to overlook the rampant sexual abuse of young boys that is common in Afghanistan, particularly by men in the Afghan security forces.
Afghan police sex abuse charges raise legal question for US aid

from 2012:Afghanistan sees rise in ‘dancing boys’ exploitation

from 2013:Bacha Bazi: An Afghan Tragedy
While the Afghan government has been able to address some of these issues since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, archaic social traditions and deep-seated gender norms have kept much of rural Afghanistan in a medieval state of purgatory. Perhaps the most deplorable tragedy, one that has actually grown more rampant since 2001, is the practice of bacha bazi — sexual companionship between powerful men and their adolescent boy conscripts.
An Afghan Tragedy: The Pashtun practice of having sex with young boys
The Consequences of Living with Afghanistan’s Culture of Child Sex Exploitation
“I have a lot of guilt with that,” Steuber says. Even though he “did everything, wrote every letter, screamed up and down the chain of command,” he made little headway: “It’s not that people didn’t care. It’s just a problem that was so prevalent and culturally ingrained that it was literally just like pushing a boulder up a mountain with that issue.” And at the end of the day, he believes, the military won’t jeopardize the entire mission by harping on the child abuse issue and potentially alienating its Afghan partners. Steuber emphasizes that cultural training is important, helpful, and necessary. “But I refused to accept,” he says, “on an intellectual level, what the anthropologists and cultural advisers were telling me.”
This Is What Winning Looks Like

from 2014:Bacha Bazi: The Tragedy of Afghanistan’s Dancing Boys
When Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy was asked to comment on the attitude of bacha bazi in Afghanistan her instant reply was “Let’s not talk about it.”

Literally translated, bacha bazi means “playing with kids,” and is slang for sexual slavery and child prostitution that thrives across Afghanistan and certain parts of Pakistan. Prepubescent boys between ages of 14 to 18 are sold to wealthy and powerful patrons for entertainment and illicit sex. Women are not allowed to dance in public, and so the boys are made to perform feminine gestures and acts.
America’s Warlords in Afghanistan - "To fight the Taliban, the United States created a new generation of abusive strongmen that are now running rampant."

An Afghan Dancing Boy Grows Up

Does it all boil down to The Afghan Character? No wonder so many Afghans are On The Black Way [alternate from Diplomaatia]

Press Just Now Realizing What All Those ‘Man Love Thursday’ Jokes Are About

previously: Inside the world of the Bacha Bazi
posted by the man of twists and turns (32 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Words fail me.
posted by pjern at 8:18 PM on October 10, 2015


Human beings are loathsome creatures.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:29 PM on October 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Everything that is wrong with "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" can be found yet again, all in one fucked up situation.
posted by chimaera at 8:33 PM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


We're working at a pace of a war crime a week here.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:35 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a horrific situation that's almost impossible to fix at the moment. Unfortunately, the western military units need the co-operation of these bastards to defeat the Taliban. Maybe, and it's a small chance, once there is some semblance of safety in Afghanistan efforts can be made towards instilling a western sense of rights and justice, but in the mean time, the enemy of my enemy...

Even if the Taliban are defeated, this kind of pedophilia and abuse have been present in this part of the world for a very long time - it's going to be extraordinarily difficult to prevent the culture of abuse from continuing. So difficult, in fact, that I doubt the western powers involved with Afghanistan have the will or the motivation to stop it.

Are the Americans willing to stick around for the decades and billions of dollars it will take to remold a feudal country into a western style nation? Should they?
posted by dazed_one at 8:37 PM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


They shouldn't be there in the first place.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:48 PM on October 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


They shouldn't be there in the first place.

I don't think that's the point of the articles - whether the Americans should be there or not, the child abuse would still happen. The Americans are there, however, and with that in mind, should/can something be done to curtail the practice of child sexual slavery?

It's a different practice, but in terms of a western power attempting to quash what they considered a vile local cultural practice, the British in India outlawed Sati (the immolation of a widow on her husband's funeral pyre) in 1829. Outlawing Sati was only possible because the British had full judicial and military control over much of the subcontinent for over a hundred years and the ban was enforced by the threat of hanging. In spite of this, incidents of Sati did and still happen.
posted by dazed_one at 8:53 PM on October 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


Outlawing Sati was only possible because the British had full judicial and military control over much of the subcontinent for over a hundred years and the ban was enforced by the threat of hanging.

"Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs." --Charles James Napier.
posted by zardoz at 9:20 PM on October 10, 2015 [52 favorites]


The pretext for the initial Taliban invasion of Afghanistan was the outrage over two warlords fighting over a favourite boy. This practice was outlawed and was not openly practiced under Taliban rule.

Are we the baddies?
posted by Meatbomb at 9:31 PM on October 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


The pretext for the initial Taliban invasion of Afghanistan was the outrage over two warlords fighting over a favourite boy. This practice was outlawed and was not openly practiced under Taliban rule.

They may have been against abusing boys, but the Taliban were happy to sell women and girls into sexual slavery.

We're all the baddies. Human beings are loathsome creatures.
posted by dazed_one at 9:47 PM on October 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


The US has no business propping up govts that violates human rights like this.
posted by asra at 10:10 PM on October 10, 2015


You're right, asra, but it's an area in which we do have significant practice. The lives of those boys mean nothing in Machiavellian terms, and those are the only terms on which statecraft is practiced.

I won't go along with the wholesale indictment of humanity, but there are indeed a great many we wouldn't miss if plague or other disaster were to strike them. And sooner rather than later.
posted by bryon at 10:26 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs."

--Charles James Napier

The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed,

--Charles James Napier

Not exactly a moral exemplar, and a good example of why it's impossible to be one when you are member of an occupying army. Any good work you do is tainted by your own presence.

The military might be more efficient at law enforcement than the police in Afghanistan, and they might be more efficient at law enforcement in the U.S. as well, given that terms of engagement are typically less restrictive than due process. If you wouldn't support active military beating suspects here, I would be careful about institutionalizing doing the same thing outside the country.
posted by layceepee at 10:27 PM on October 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's odd how our human tendency to pick teams means that whenever two or more manifestly evil groups are fighting each other, it seems to break something in our brains. Who are we supposed to fight for? All these people are bad and none are preferable, therefore all humanity is evil and hopeless.

But is it really so hard to say, all these particular folks are bad -- but that doesn't mean everyone is? And that we may have no idea what to do, but that doesn't mean we have to choose a side? It is indeed often the case that in a conflict, one side is much more to blame than the other. But the need to fit every conflict into this structure means watching generation after generation of people even on the left backed into picking a side to arm, and simultaneously throwing up their hands in despair at humanity. Every party in a fight may be a bastard, but that doesn't mean everyone is, and it doesn't mean there isn't a lot that can be done. It just means that picking a side to fight for isn't it.
posted by chortly at 10:35 PM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Once you've established the practice of othering an entire group of people to turn them into sexual objects, it's easy enough to find a new group to do it to, provided they aren't able to fight back. I'm sure this practice is as old as patriarchy itself.

It's monstrous, and those fighting against it are right in understanding that, but probably don't perceive the ways in which it differs very little from how women and girls are treated in Afghan society, something which we also just accept as something our allies do, with a shrug. I don't have much hope for our ability to transform Afghan culture in a positive way, given our giant blind spots about our own failings. We might be able to nudge things along towards education and opportunity, and provide escape hatches for those being exploited. Maybe. We seem a lot more interested in bombing civilians who stand too close to other people we want to bomb.
posted by emjaybee at 11:02 PM on October 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


don't think that's the point of the articles - whether the Americans should be there or not, the child abuse would still happen. The Americans are there, however, and with that in mind, should/can something be done to curtail the practice of child sexual slavery?

On the one hand you're correct. On the other hand calling for all our forces to be removed will neatly, cleanly, and morally sidestep the issue. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that the answer is our troops shouldn't be there. Let the Afghans sort out Afghanistan. And the Syrians Syria. And the Iraqis Iraq.

Everywhere we go we make it worse.
posted by Justinian at 12:03 AM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Sort out"?
posted by Segundus at 2:00 AM on October 11, 2015


"so perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another"

-- Guess Who
posted by fullerine at 2:49 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


But we digress, this obscenity should be trumpeted from he rooftops and the perpetrators brought to justice. It will not of course. We will throw up our hands and say "what is to be done?" like we have been doing for a couple of hundred years.

Oh, and some of us will get filthy, stinking, obscenely rich too.

Part of me thinks these things may not be entirely unrelated.
posted by fullerine at 2:55 AM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Part of me thinks these things may not be entirely unrelated.

Afghanistan's rare earth doesn't get a lot of coverage, but I expect it's a factor.
posted by BWA at 3:47 AM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Who are we supposed to fight for?

Fighting won't win this.
posted by amtho at 3:52 AM on October 11, 2015


Fighting won't win this.

Do you even America, bro?
posted by maxwelton at 4:58 AM on October 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


I know many who have abused children, who are excused and understood for their violence and sexual abuse, even of minors.

I feel a wrath, I want to destroy and smash. But I can not even bear the suffering of my enemy. Even in fantasy if I imagine destroying these beasts I imagine the one hand of destruction unleashing a terrible force and the other healing and protecting from my enemy being destroyed in the blast.

We will not slaughter our way out of this- not in ourselves, in our communities, or our neighbors community. Don't get me wrong, I believe in self defense, but that sword of justice will not be one that hunts down the wicked but one that stands before the vulnerable and those who can not be stopped from attacking will throw themselves upon it. If we can have mercy for those that commit these deeds, we can have mercy for those who seek to destroy those who have done these deeds. That wrath arises because there may be times it is useful when all peaceful solutions have been exhausted and the welfare of the vulnerable is at stake.

I look at some of these family members, some have aged well, they learn to stop the drinking and drugging, eat a more peaceful diet. They want to walk in the mercy and compassion of the divine, to mend the wrongs.

It can not be mended so easily as this- but neither will I let any being seeking redemption be without the doors of mercy opened. We must challenge ourselves to show mercy when we yearn only to unleash wrath-- what brings wrath can we look in the mirror to ourselves? In our culture- do we protect the young from the predation and exploitation of their elders? But we must also challenge ourselves, when we see the monster is our friends, our selves- to rise up when we would rather show only mercy. To take ourselves and others to task for their deeds for the benefit of the vulnerable who deserve better than excuses and understandings for the wrong done to them. We will need the mercy and the wrath- and the wisdom to use them judiciously for the good of humankind, and beings beyond us as well.
posted by xarnop at 9:07 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Prepubescent boys between ages of 14 to 18 are sold

Prepubescent 18 year olds? I don't think so.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:11 AM on October 11, 2015


So this was the fourth anglo-afgan war, yeah? Did this come up previously? Any reference to how it was with then dealt?
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 9:44 AM on October 11, 2015


A common fallacy embedded in our outrage is the preposterous notion that our military forces are in Afghanistan for the good of the Afghanis. We are there for our own benefit. It's unseemly to cluck our tongues at their quaint ways while we act out our role as an invading army. You may test this logic by taking a step back to make judgmental assessments about any of a few dozen other countries. Our saving grace would be that we have not yet invaded them.

Meanwhile let's punish any of our military people who seem to still have both compassion and the balls to try to do the right thing. If you turn your face away from one evil you must shut your eyes to another. Nothing you can do is acceptable.

Nation building: What's in it for me? (Ask the Soviets, and everyone else who went to Afghanistan thinking they would dominate a country of "primitive" tribesmen.)
posted by mule98J at 10:34 AM on October 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Despite my horror at this practice, I am very much not here for the imperialism and the implication that American governance would somehow sort them out. Yeah the British outlawed sati, but at what cost?

Like, yes. This is horrible. But I truly hope this doesn't go down the too-familiar, too-easy path of "let's cure the brown nations of their barbarism."
posted by Ashen at 7:24 PM on October 11, 2015


Take up the White Man’s burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
I'm pretty sure there's a reason we don't consider this poem a guidebook to good governance these days.
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on October 11, 2015


Yeah the British outlawed sati, but at what cost?

Sorry, I hope my comments weren't taken as being supportive of imperialism; by mentioning the cost in time and money, the requirement of total dominance over the region and the fact that it didn't prevent people from practicing their customs, I hoped to illustrate that it's a futile struggle with too great a cost.
posted by dazed_one at 8:39 PM on October 11, 2015




And the Human Terrain Team members said, ‘you know, actually that’s part of Afghan culture and there’s not really much you can do about it. If you don’t like it, you can’t stop it. It’s just part of what they are. Don’t try and impose your values on the people you’re working with because you’re not going to change them.’ So [that’s] somewhat a humorous example.” (McFate quoted in “Anthropologists and War” 2007).
Montgomery McFate aka Mitzy Carlough and the Human Terrain System.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:02 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seems to me there's some, y'know, space between deciding you can't impose values on all of Afghanistan and inviting people to rape kids on your base.
posted by tavella at 11:43 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


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