US military accused of overlooking Afghan abuse of boys

Practice of bacha bazi - 'boy play' - said to be commonplace

Updated: 
Marines Expose Afghan Army's Child Sex Slaves


The systematic and tolerated practice of child sex slavery and abuse in Afghanistan continues to this day - and the US military has been accused of overlooking it.

CNN reports that two US soldiers who say they used physical force against an Afghan police commander in 2011 who had been sexually abusing a boy were removed from their military base and flown back to the US.

"I picked him up, threw him to the ground multiple times and Charles did the same thing," said Dan Quinn, who was a US Army captain at the time. "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, ended up with them being relieved of their duties shortly afterward. Quinn has since left the military and Martland is now being involuntarily separated from the Army.

They had directly confronted a thorny issue for US forces in Afghanistan: the subculture of bacha bazi, or 'boy play", in which young Afghans are used as sex slaves by grown men.

Unable to take action

For US service members in Afghanistan, the abuse of children is infuriatingly hard to stop, especially when it's carried out by Afghan commanders allied with American-led forces.

"The reason we weren't able to step in with these local rape cases was we didn't want to undermine the authority of the local government," Quinn said.

The New York Times reported this week that US soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan have been instructed not to intervene in the abuse of Afghan boys, even in some cases in which it's taken place on military bases.


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