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Thread: Chlid Sex Abuse by AFG Security Forces?

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    Default Chlid Sex Abuse by AFG Security Forces?

    MODS: Couldn't find this elsewhere, but feel free to move/delete if already being discussed.

    This summer, a Canadian media outlet ran a story alleging
    Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been ordered by commanding officers "to ignore" incidents of sexual assault among the civilian population, says a military chaplain who counsels troops returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder....
    The next day, speaking at a government committee hearing, Canada's Chief of Defence Staff is quoted saying
    "If somebody is being seriously abused, we are not going to stand by and see that continue. I expect young men and young women to have their actions mirror their values that they bring with them from Canada"
    On 21 Nov 08, the Canadian Forces announced a BOI regarding
    .... the circumstances surrounding the allegations made last June of assault by Afghan National Security Forces members in the Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in late 2006 or early 2007 (originating) from allegations reported in the media of possible abuse of Afghan minors by Afghan National Security Forces.
    To me, if the Coalition is there to help develop professional military and police forces, this is a real problem. However, in spite of major (righteous) public rage over the recent attack involving acid thrown at school girls and teachers, I sense some discomfort around the male abuse issue.

    On the con side of dealing with this, is it our business to change something that, to my understanding, has been a cultural norm for a long time? This, from a recent Pakistani blog post (highlighting mine):
    ....homosexuality in Pashtun society has been an open secret, although it might well be exaggerated. According to local tradition, many men live by the credo “Women for duty; boys for pleasure.” Indeed, Afghans often dress up pretty boys as girls, and have them dance in public. According to Afghan tradition, even birds cover their rear with their wings when flying over Kandahar....
    On the pro side of dealing with this, though, how can a professional police/military force truly protect citizens whose kids may be subject to "chickenhawking" by said force members? If we're there teaching professional behaviour, shouldn't avoiding such behaviour be part of the plan?

    Although I feel something should be done, I'm at a loss about how to deal with it. Or is this even NATO/ISAF/OEF's business?

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    Quote Originally Posted by milnews.ca View Post
    On the con side of dealing with this, is it our business to change something that, to my understanding, has been a cultural norm for a long time?
    The Taliban's initial seizure of Kandahar in 1994 was (in the usual version of the story), in response to child sexual abuse of boys and girls. This was subsequently severely curtailed under their rule.

    Consequently, any such abuses by the ANA and ANP play nicely into the Taliban's current messaging that "security was better under us..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    The Taliban's initial seizure of Kandahar in 1994 was (in the usual version of the story), in response to child sexual abuse of boys and girls. This was subsequently severely curtailed under their rule.

    Consequently, any such abuses by the ANA and ANP play nicely into the Taliban's current messaging that "security was better under us..."
    Good point - never thought about how the Taliban would message it.

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    Default More....

    ....from Strategy Page:
    .... Foreign troops operating in southern Afghanistan quickly learn that this is a place where men are men, even if they are sexually attracted to other men, and especially boys. Other Afghans know about this, and a favorite bit of humor on the subject asks, "why do male birds fly over Kandahar flapping only one wing?" The punch line is, "so they can use their other wing to protect their rear end." Naturally, foreign troops are told to be careful with local ways, and not offend Afghans by mocking or criticizing local customs that offend, or amuse, foreign sensibilities.

    This puts the Canadian military in an uncomfortable position. To admit to knowledge of these pederast practices would oblige them to intervene to prevent such abuse of children. This, of course, would raise an uproar among Afghans. First of all, Afghans officially deny that such practices exist. Islam forbids it, even though homosexuality and pederasty is common in many Moslem nations. Many powerful men indulge, and will use force to deal with anyone who brings public attention to such activity. But the Canadian public may demand that Canadian troops aggressively seek to halt such activity. Since the Afghan men in question tend to be armed, this will get ugly quickly.

    Moreover, the Taliban and drug gangs have continued to recruit teenage boys for service as gunmen. Younger boys have been kidnapped, or bought from their parents, to satisfy the sexual needs of some Taliban and drug gang members. Underage kids are also used as suicide bombers. More boys than girls have been taken for sexual reasons....

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    Default Some more recent coverage

    Shared in the interests of research and discussion....

    Chaplain says senior officer aware of rapes by Afghans
    Soldier recalls cries from boy brought onto Canadian base
    Rick Westhead, Toronto Star, 14 Dec 08
    Article link

    The boy was no more than 12. He wore a wig, lipstick and perfume and was dressed in a flowing robe when an Afghan interpreter escorted him to the entrance of the Canadian base in remote Afghanistan.

    It was June 2006 and it was one of Tyrel Braaten's first days at Forward Operating Base Wilson, about 30 kilometres outside Kandahar.

    Braaten watched as the local interpreter, who worked for the Canadians, ushered the boy through the security checkpoint and led him inside a nearby building.

    The bombardier was bewildered. He asked another interpreter standing next to him who the boy was. The interpreter shrugged that the boy was one of "the bitches."

    "I said, `What do you mean?' and he made the motion with his hips, like you know," said Braaten, 24. "I remember saying, `Are we on Mars? Does this s--- go on all the time?'"

    The native of Saskatchewan is the latest soldier to come forward alleging in detail how young Afghan boys during his tour in Afghanistan in 2006 were regularly sodomized by Afghan interpreters and soldiers working alongside Canadian soldiers.....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-14-2008 at 04:41 PM. Reason: Edited quoted content - follow link for entire article.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm sure the media position is that the public has a right to know.

    I'm equally sure the media do not care that the issue, while problematic in western terms, is -- at the specific juncture of east and west where it is occurring and noted -- extremely difficult to resolve and that such articles fed to fat, comfortable westerners who are in warm houses and well fed under nominally good government and the rule of law (heh...) will do nothing but excite a lot of babble and outcry that will change nothing and will serve only to put the poor CAF at risk...
    Last edited by Ken White; 12-14-2008 at 04:35 PM. Reason: Typo

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    Default Tough one, given history, but something needs doing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm equally sure the media do not care that the issue, while problematic in western terms, is -- at the specific juncture of east and west where it is occurring and noted -- extremely difficult to resolve
    Too true, but I understand (see below) that OMLT members are starting to mention to AFG troops and cops they're training that it's not exactly cool doing this, cultural history or not, to people they're supposed to be seen to protect. Given all the other balls in the air for fighting and training troops, this is at least SOMETHING.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    such articles fed to fat, comfortable westerners who are in warm houses and well fed under nominally good government and the rule of law (heh...) will do nothing but excite a lot of babble and outcry that will change nothing and will serve only to put the poor CAF at risk...
    The Torch, a Canadian military web log, sums it up reasonably well, I think (offered in the knowledge that there's a Canadian military Board of Inquiry investigating allegations that have not been proven beyond mentions in mainstream media)...
    ....My bottom line: if abuse like this is happening on Canadian FOB's, with Canadian troops turning a blind eye, then it needs to stop. I'm told that the OMLT's and POMLT's are already advising the ANSF that they mentor that regardless of cultural traditions, it's unprofessional conduct from a force whose raison d'etre is the protection of Afghan citizens.

    By all means, let's make sure the CF is stopping the abuse where and when it can. But if you're looking to condemn the entire Afghan mission because of these accusations, remember there's still a big baby in that bathwater you're about to toss down the drain. Don't stop fixing anything just because you can't fix everything at once.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Something is being done. So sayest thou...

    Quote Originally Posted by milnews.ca View Post
    Too true, but I understand (see below) that OMLT members are starting to mention to AFG troops and cops they're training that it's not exactly cool doing this, cultural history or not, to people they're supposed to be seen to protect. Given all the other balls in the air for fighting and training troops, this is at least SOMETHING.
    I'm sure they are and equally sure the same thing is happening in US advised elements. That is all that should be done; to make a big production out of it will simply cause the Afghans to rebel in protest at excessive interference.

    It is a cultural thing that will take years to change -- if it is ever changed. We have the same sorts of problems here in the west, we're just more discreet abou it -- or more PC and won't condemn it, one or the other.
    ... I think (offered in the knowledge that there's a Canadian military Board of Inquiry investigating allegations that have not been proven beyond mentions in mainstream media)...
    I read The Torch and SOMNIA everyday.

    This was really my point:
    ""
    By all means, let's make sure the CF is stopping the abuse where and when it can. But if you're looking to condemn the entire Afghan mission because of these accusations, remember there's still a big baby in that bathwater you're about to toss down the drain. Don't stop fixing anything just because you can't fix everything at once.""
    Well said. I was railing against (a) the ignorant and self serving media and (b) complacent and possibly well intentioned but also ignorant and self serving whining from those who don't have to either understand or contend with the problem about which they whinge.

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    Default Children are a commodity in Afghanistan

    Yes this abuse by Afg SF may occur and is difficult to deal with. Let me try to place a little context around children in Afg.

    IIRC in 2006-2007 there were reports of Afg children disappearing in the border provinces, only to be found in Pakistan minus their organs and President Karzai condemned this "harvesting".

    Around the same time the UK press reported that Afg children were appearing in the UK, smuggled in, who needed to be cared for and were placed in (reluctant to act) local authority care at some cost. Shortly afterwards "relatives" would appear to claim the child, who was handed over and a tidy weekly sum paid to the "relative" for care. All the children were young boys and child slavery was suspected.

    Afg is a poor country and I suspect poor families sell their children, not knowingly for "harvesting". IIRC an article on farmers selling children after a poor harvest appeared on a SWJ thread.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-16-2008 at 07:37 PM. Reason: Piecemeal sentence by sentence due to home IT issues

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    Default I'm torn, even if it IS a tough nut to crack...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm sure they are and equally sure the same thing is happening in US advised elements. That is all that should be done; to make a big production out of it will simply cause the Afghans to rebel in protest at excessive interference.
    I wrestle with this one a lot. The idealist in me thinks someone should be doing more, especially in the context of training cops and soldiers who are supposed to be protecting the kids who are being abused. The realist in me, though, knows that aside from OMLTs including this as part of the informal cultural back-and-forth, the Coalition military's plate is already pretty full given the balls already in the air and the timeframe involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    It is a cultural thing that will take years to change -- if it is ever changed. We have the same sorts of problems here in the west, we're just more discreet abou it -- or more PC and won't condemn it, one or the other.
    As is this, but I'm noticing a white-hot rage on this one compared to what I encounter on the abuse issue. Have to agree, though, on the "we're not there to impose our culture" - too many historic examples from all sorts of other cultures trying the same thing to be optimistic about the results of such an exercise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    This was really my point:Well said. I was railing against (a) the ignorant and self serving media and (b) complacent and possibly well intentioned but also ignorant and self serving whining from those who don't have to either understand or contend with the problem about which they whinge.
    (a) Seen, and (b) as for what people say, what happened/didn't happen and why, I'd like to think the best intentions (yeah, I know, dream big), but am happy to let the BOI get to the bottom of it and share down the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    IIRC in 2006-2007 there were reports of Afg children disappearing in the border provinces, only to be found in Pakistan minus their organs and President Karzai condemned this "harvesting".

    Around the same time the UK press reported that Afg children were appearing in the UK, smuggled in, who needed to be cared for and were placed in (reluctant to act) local authority care at some cost. Shortly afterwards "relatives" would appear to claim the child, who was handed over and a tidy weekly sum paid to the "relative" for care. All the children were young boys and child slavery was suspected.

    Afg is a poor country and I suspect poor families sell their children, not knowingly for "harvesting". IIRC an article on farmers selling children after a poor harvest appeared on a SWJ thread.
    Thanks for sharing that - will track that down a bit (since I don't remember).

    Thanks for the back-and-forth on this!

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    Just to reiterate a comment that I made in an earlier post—the Taliban's rise to political prominence in Kandahar occurred precisely because they clamped down against child sexual abuse (as well as a number of other acts that were widely considered immoral). While I don't doubt that the (male) child sex trade flourishes, I wouldn't presume that it has widespread local support.

    It is a cultural thing that will take years to change -- if it is ever changed. We have the same sorts of problems here in the west, we're just more discreet abou it -- or more PC and won't condemn it, one or the other.
    As is this, but I'm noticing a white-hot rage on this one compared to what I encounter on the abuse issue. Have to agree, though, on the "we're not there to impose our culture" - too many historic examples from all sorts of other cultures trying the same thing to be optimistic about the results of such an exercise.
    The real key to addressing this is to determine—not assume—how the locals would react to actions taken to limit such abuses. At the moment, our real information level on that seems to hovering close to zero.

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    Default True. However

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    The real key to addressing this is to determine—not assume—how the locals would react to actions taken to limit such abuses. At the moment, our real information level on that seems to hovering close to zero.
    while the Taliban did and do object to homosexual relations -- officially -- we probably also need to determine if they have different feelings toward our attempting to regulate local morality versus their attempting to regulate local morality. If they object even slightly to our doing so we'd give them a propaganda coup and a half. Not as simple as just what the locals themselves want -- though that is the prime issue.

    What they want, not what we want them to want or wish they did want...

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    Default If memory serves me correct

    I remember going into many remote Afghan villages where it seemed every blonde hair, blue eyed Afghan boy had his finger nails dyed. The signifignce to this is that marked them as the village (how to say this politically correct) sex slave I guess is best. This was rampant throughout the country.

    On another note I'll never forget the video footage of an overwatch position from SAS folks showing an Afghan male utilizing a stump to put a whole new meaning to the "donkey show". Took weeks before I could keep a straight face whenever I heard a donkey hee-haw, and even now still chuckle sometimes.

    One of the most difficult tasks is not to let your own culture and morals reflect upon executing your missions. Not too long ago we our selves were marrying much younger and having children with 13 year olds. It was the acceptable norm back then, as there are things we do now that others think are completely unacceptable.
    ODB

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    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

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    Post Where's that local shining light when you need them

    Sounds like it would be a good idea to look for the local face who has a problem with this too and the legitimacy to push for actions to deal with it.

    Before as Rex mentioned the former group realizes an opportunity we'd rather they not have.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Default Would you not then be accused of using said local light

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Sounds like it would be a good idea to look for the local face who has a problem with this too and the legitimacy to push for actions to deal with it.

    Before as Rex mentioned the former group realizes an opportunity we'd rather they not have.
    as a western puppet and therefor harming his lightness?

    Messing with local beliefs and morals by an Armed Force (as opposed to many other agencies) is a really, really bad idea. The potential for express or implied coercion can have bad connotations. It should be diligently avoided like Wal-Mart says, All ways and Always...

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    Red face What I get for not completing a thought

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    as a western puppet and therefor harming his lightness?

    Messing with local beliefs and morals by an Armed Force (as opposed to many other agencies) is a really, really bad idea. The potential for express or implied coercion can have bad connotations. It should be diligently avoided like Wal-Mart says, All ways and Always...
    I originally finished that post with an -

    And jump on the bandwagon but decided against it.
    That however is actually what I meant. The key to all such things is who's leading the effort. and the enabler's provided them be it support in physical, sociological or otherwise. It still comes back to those who choose such change from withiin their own populace.

    While I get where your coming from I still think that in many ways choosing sides is not always as misconstrued by those we are there to help so much as attempts are made by those we're fighting against.


    The idea of putting leaders you find on a pedestal because you agree with them should not necessarily be confused with helping to build pedestals for those who might otherwise not have the mike in which to speak.

    Probably not a bad idea to knock down some pedestals to make it harder for those who can't sing to actually make it to said mike
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Help is is in the eye of the helped...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    ...While I get where your coming from I still think that in many ways choosing sides is not always as misconstrued by those we are there to help so much as attempts are made by those we're fighting against.
    It will rarely be misconstrued by those "we are there to help" (though you'd be surprised at how often they wish we'd 'help' a little less...); it will always be misrepresented by those we're fighting against.

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    Cool A probation officer's opinion of Afghan Sex Crimes

    While many of these "sexual abuse" and "child molestation" incidents meet the criteria to be defined as sex crimes in the United States (and many other parts of the world), they may or may not in Afghanistan and other nations/cultures in the region. The fact is that many of the "laws" we have in the United States are actually legalized moral opinions. We need to tread cautiously when upholding the "law" because it may turn out that we're only upholding a cultural opinion/norm not shared by the "law breaker."

    Do I find such behavior repugnant and despicable? Yes. Do I think they are sex crimes? Yes. Can the United States go around protecting the world from itself? No. If the behavior being observed violates local laws, then the United States and other peace keepers need to intervene. If not, then we need to do our best to influence the locals to change. However, we cannot impose our beliefs, customs, and laws upon cultures that do not share them

    To do otherwise, no matter how strongly we may feel on the issue, is a sure recipe for the situation to head due south and ensure that we meet the same fate as the Soviets and others who have attempted to control the area.

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    Default First hand,

    Quote Originally Posted by rtodhner View Post
    While many of these "sexual abuse" and "child molestation" incidents meet the criteria to be defined as sex crimes in the United States (and many other parts of the world), they may or may not in Afghanistan and other nations/cultures in the region. The fact is that many of the "laws" we have in the United States are actually legalized moral opinions. We need to tread cautiously when upholding the "law" because it may turn out that we're only upholding a cultural opinion/norm not shared by the "law breaker."
    I'd tell you that every where I went, which covered from Helmand east and Abad south, the locals all denied that there was a pederast in their village, the terp and ANA indentified at least one, and based on the evidence (painted boys, etc.) they were correct more often than not. Coupled with the miracle of ITAS and other night vision, I can tell you it happens with 100% surety.

    The locals deny this because of pride and machismo. IOT get involved, we would need to be much more connected to that particular tribe, and know the actual situation. In my experience, there is no way that will ever happen, the tribal mindset is simply too insular.

    To heavy-handidly try to enforce the Afghan/Islamic law regarding homosexuality/child abuse would invariably come off wrong. Better would be an information campaign that advocates in the children's favor (think DoS), and turning over hard evidence (we have video of the actual events) to local prosecuter and pressuring action through their system.

    Any direct action on our part becomes and change of mission and/or a tar baby.

    Believe me, given that ROE authorized use of deadly force to prevent rape, I had a very hard time restraining myself and others. But until we call this a crusade, we will have to stick to our mission.
    The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.

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    Leadership is motivating hostile subordinates to execute a superior's wish you don't agree with given inadequate resources and insufficient time while your peers interfere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rtodhner View Post
    Do I find such behavior repugnant and despicable? Yes. Do I think they are sex crimes? Yes. Can the United States go around protecting the world from itself? No. If the behavior being observed violates local laws, then the United States and other peace keepers need to intervene. If not, then we need to do our best to influence the locals to change.
    Well, according to this reference:
    ....the fundamental attitude of Afghan law towards sexual activity is best expressed in the Civil Code, which is also a product of the 1970’s socialist period. Article 60 of the Civil Code defines marriage as “a contract which legalizes intercourse between a man and a woman….” ....The Penal Code proceeds from the fundamental assumption that sexual activity is by definition illegal, criminal, and punishable. Only the marriage contract removes the criminal nature of sex. This understanding of sex disregards the element of consent that is imperative in classifying the crime of rape in most modern legal systems. In Afghanistan, outside of marriage, both consensual and non-consensual sex are equally punishable, while within marriage, both types of sex are equally permissible....
    and according to this one, cited by Stars & Stripes:
    Afghanistan
    Male-Female Sex: 18/Married
    Male-Male Sex: Illegal
    Female-Female Sex Illegal
    any sex between males, consensual or not, age of majority or not, appears to be illegal in AFG.

    Quote Originally Posted by rtodhner View Post
    However, we cannot impose our beliefs, customs, and laws upon cultures that do not share them

    To do otherwise, no matter how strongly we may feel on the issue, is a sure recipe for the situation to head due south and ensure that we meet the same fate as the Soviets and others who have attempted to control the area.
    Too true.

    However, what do you make of the devil's advocate position that females have been denied education in a LOT of conservative, traditional rural AFG for a looooooooooong time, and we (the Coalition) seem to be pushing hard to enable that scale of culture change?

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