As rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders, American policy states that U.S. soldiers should look the other way on the matter with Afghan allies "because it's their culture," The New York Times
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. said in his last phone call home to his father, Gregory Buckley Sr., before he was shot to death at the base in 2012.
Lance Corporal Buckley, alongside two other Marines, was shot by a large entourage of boys led by an Afghan police commander with a recognized bad reputation, Sarwar Jan. And, Buckley's father told the New York Times that he believes American policy of nonintervention is what ultimately led to his son's death and has filed a lawsuit for more information on the controversial issue.
“Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law,” said the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus. “There would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it," he added, unless when rape is being used as a weapon of war."
The Times notes that the American policy of nonintervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban; however, the policy is being criticized as new information and court records has revealed that service members have faced discipline, even career loss, for disobeying the policy.
"The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.
“But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”
Quinn was pulled out of Afghanistan after the event and has since left the military, but the New York Times reports that four years later, the Army is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Captain Quinn in beating up the commander.
“The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),” said Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who supports Sergeant Martland and hopes to save his career.
Despite sickness, distress and pain from hearing or watching sexual predation, some soldiers have noted that they understood the policy and respected it.
“The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban,” a former Marine lance corporal, who asked to stay anonymous, reflected to the New York Times. “It wasn’t to stop molestation.”
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