Congressman demands end to ‘savage’ Afghan sexual abuse policy

Congressman demands end to ‘savage’ Afghan sexual abuse policy
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A Republican congressman is urging the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to immediately stop punishing soldiers who report sexual abuse of children in Afghanistan.

“It is bad enough if the Pentagon is telling our soldiers to ignore this type of barbaric and savage behavior, but it’s even worse if we are punishing those who try to stop it,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) wrote in a letter to Gen. Martin Dempsey on Monday. “The only people who should be punished are the ones who created and condoned this immoral and savage code.”

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The letter is in response to an article published Sunday in The New York Times that said American soldiers have been told not intervene when Afghan police or militia sexually abuse children. In some cases, according to the Times, those who have stepped in have been punished.

The policy is meant to maintain a good relationship with the Afghan police and militia units the U.S. has trained to fight the Taliban, according to the Times.

For example, the Times reported, Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain, was relieved of his command when he beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.

The Army is also trying to forcibly retire another Special Forces member who joined in the beating, Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, according to the Times.

The spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, told the Times that allegations of child sexual abuse are the purview of Afghan criminal law and that there’s no requirement for U.S. soldiers to report it.

In his letter to Dempsey, Buchanan called the Times’s report “deeply troubling.”

“Fighting in a foreign theater should not require our service members to turn a blind eye towards criminal perversion,” he wrote. “Those who wear the uniform of the U.S. military should be commended, not punished, for upholding American values.”