Officials were concerned about a New York Times report yesterday, which stated U.S. military personnel were to ignore the sexual abuse of children they may see by Afghan security forces (MilitaryTimes). U.S. soldiers were, and still are, being punished for trying to stop Afghan forces who were sexually abusing and torturing young boys and girls. There is no policy that states Americans are allowed to interfere with these acts; it is strictly up to the Afghan government to stop the abuse.
“Bacha bazi”, meaning “dancing boys”, is the act involving sexual abuse of boys who are trained to dance in female clothes. These cruel abusive acts done to boys, sometimes on overseas American bases, are very common in Afghanistan, particularly by males in the Afghan security personnel or by those of high power. Women and young girls are often sexually abused and beaten as well.
A few years ago, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. called his father, Gregory Buckley Sr., and told him he could hear Afghan security personnel sexually abusing boys from his bunker. His son told the military leaders in his unit, but was told he had to ignore it as it is the Afghanistan culture. Buckley Jr. was shot to death short after this in 2012. His father believes his son’s open concerns about the abuse is what killed him.
We find these horrific happenings still occurring today.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland and Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces Captain, fought an Afghan military commander who kept a boy chained to his bed and served as a sex slave. Martland and Quinn learned of this abuse when the boy’s mother, who was visibly abused as well, told the Americans what happened to her and her son. Quinn confronted the abusive leader, Abdul Rahman, about what he had done. Rahman didn’t take Quinn seriously. Quinn then threw him to the ground and Martland joined in on the beating, according to the New York Times report.
Rahman was working with Americans.
Martland must leave the Army by Nov. 1 due to his actions. He received an adverse action on his personnel record, which essentially can force a soldier to leave the Army. Quinn was pulled out of Afghanistan after the incident. He has since left the military service.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and other leaders are wondering if this is a common occurrence among the military, and if troops have always been prohibited from helping the young children from being abused. Hunter hopes Defense Secretary Ash Carter will look over the case and do his best to find a solution this ongoing issue. Hunter’s main concern is the military leaders will not face the fact that a mistake was made in punishing Martland.
“I hope that when making a decision between supporting an elite warrior like Martland or a child rapist and criminal, the organizations or individuals in a position to make a decision will side with Martland,” Hunter said in a letter to Carter earlier this month (Chicago Tribune).
Defense officials have not made any comments on the case regarding Martland. It has been noted Martland has acted professionally during the case. Unfortunately, Martland is not the only one who has had to go through this process.
While is may be common in Afghanistan culture to do this, something must be done to change it. It not only hurts the poor children who are being abused, but it puts our soldiers’ lives in danger as well. It seems one can express their concerns without being punished in some way or another. Afghans who do this to children should be put in prison for their harsh exertions.
Sources: New York Times, MilitaryTimes, and Chicago Tribune