U.S. Military Enables Child Rape in Afghanistan

by Larry Everest | September 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


A new exposé in the New York Times reveals that Afghan military officers trained, armed, and put in command positions by the U.S. have been systematically raping and abusing young Afghan boys—and that the U.S. military’s policy is to turn a blind eye to these crimes and punish any U.S. soldiers who speak out against it. 

The stories are sickening: Afghan commanders with young boys literally chained to their beds as sex slaves; children screaming at night; whole entourages of “tea boys”—basically indentured servants and “sex toys”—accompanying high-ranking Afghan officers; groups of military and police who gather to watch heavily made-up young boys dance and titillate them, later to be assaulted. (The assaults aren’t confined to boys. One U.S.-supported Afghan commander raped a 15-year-old girl—he was given one day in jail, while the victim was forced to marry him; a 12-year old girl was murdered by her military commander father for supposedly kissing a boy.)

The Times reports, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene.” The U.S. military’s excuse has been it’s wrong to impose U.S. values on Afghanistan’s culture and that these Afghan military units have been needed to fight their enemy, the Taliban.

This exposure has shocked and sickened many people—“one of the most shameful things I have ever heard of,” one reader wrote the Times.

What’s the Problem Here?

Is this simply an isolated instance of military misconduct or “poor decision making” that is “at odds with American values and with international laws Washington has taken the lead in promoting,” as the New York Times editorialized?

Are you kidding me? This is a military that has bombed wedding parties! A military that has murdered hundreds if not thousands of Afghan civilians in drone strikes. A military that has turned over “suspects” to the Afghan military for torture. 

And this is a military where sexual assault and rape—of women and men—is at sky-high levels. Former Defense Secretary (and C.I.A. Director) Leon Panetta had to acknowledge that an average of 365 sexual assaults take place every week in the U.S. military. This figure is very likely a gross underestimation: as the organization Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) reported, while all “sexual assaults are under reported, this problem is exacerbated [made worse] in military settings.”

No wonder the U.S. military brass didn’t have a problem with more rapes and abuses, and more mangled bodies and lives.

What U.S. Imperialism Strengthens and Reinforces in Afghanistan

Is the real problem here, as some say, that the U.S. is trying to do too much good in the world—“remake countries” whose culture is hopelessly backward and beyond repair?

Bringing Forward Another Way

Bringing Foward Another Way is an edited version of a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, to a group of Party supporters, in 2006. It is must reading for a serious understanding of what the U.S. "war on terror" is really about and how to bring forward a positive force in the world in opposition to both Western imperialism and Islamic Jihad.

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No, the problem is imperialism, and outmoded social forces in countries like Afghanistan—and how these two oppressive forces reinforce each other. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 for imperialist interests, including defeating their immediate enemies—al Qaeda and the Taliban—and turning Afghanistan into a stable state that would help further U.S. objectives in Central Asia. That meant quickly establishing control of Afghanistan and putting pro-U.S. forces into power, and that meant empowering local reactionary forces—warlords, militia heads, and local chieftains—willing to collaborate with the U.S. The influence and control of this sordid gang rests squarely on Afghanistan’s reactionary traditional feudal, tribal and patriarchal social relations and ideology—which create suffering hated by many ordinary Afghans.

This sordid child rape scandal is yet another exposure of the hypocrisy of U.S. claiming to be fighting backward social relations in general and Islamic fundamentalism in particular. For the imperialists, this is just a matter of “taste”—that is, they’re happy to ally with whichever murderers, rapists, or fundamentalists are most useful to them at a given moment. What’s happened in Afghanistan isn’t an exception: this is what the U.S. brings to the world—imperialism and political structures that support imperialism.

So when you think about the screams of these helpless children being raped in the middle of the night—remember this is what U.S. imperialism has strengthened and reinforced, at the cost of thousands of lives and millions of refugees in some 14 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan.



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