Former Canadian soldier speaks out against ‘disgusting’ child rape in Afghanistan

This is easily one of the more disturbing instances of military bureaucracy that has occurred in recent times. Apparently the Canadian military intentionally ignored the rape of boys by Afghan forces in order to prevent the stories from reaching media. Several Canadian soldiers heard about and witnessed the rape, but nothing was done by their commanders and nothing was done about by the Canadian military brass. As one former soldier recounts:

“It’s disgusting,” said Schouten, now retired after eight years in the military. “We’re telling people that we’re trying to build a nation there and we let this happen?”

“We allow rampant abuse of young boys at the hands of what is supposed to be their finest police officers and army officers, then what does that say?”

Schouten’s allegations that Afghans were sexually abusing children at a Canadian base near Kandahar made headlines in 2008 but earlier this year, military investigators dismissed the claims as unfounded.

He is, however, not alone in voicing his concerns. Defence Department records show military police were upset about such incidents but were told not to interfere. Army officers also met in 2007 to discuss the issue of Afghan security personnel “having anal sex with young boys” but their main concern was the media would somehow find out.

Others in the military note they were told such practices were an age-old part of Afghan culture. One soldier who e-mailed Canwest News Service stated he served at the same base at another time and troops had orders to stop any rapes. But he also noted they were told the practise of “Man Love Thursdays,” as it was called, involved consenting Afghans and no one was raped by older men. The children involved were given small gifts or money in return for sex, soldiers said.

Cultural norm or not, it is a disgusting practice. The article goes on to mention cases in which villagers complained of Afghan forces kidnapping boys and one instance in which an Afghan interpreter with some five-year-old boys in tow approached the former soldier and told the soldier that he liked raping little boys at knife point.

Apparently the UN is aware of this “cultural practice,” but nothing has been done about it. That is hardly surprising given that the victims are male. The UN frequently mentions sexual violence against women, so it is not a matter of the UN having no real knowledge of or desire to change cultural attitudes in that part of the world. Most likely the issue is simply that the victims are male and the UN cannot be bothered to consider male rape a valid problem to address, even when the victims are as young as five-years-old. It would appear this also applies to the international media, as the only reports about this situation appear to come from Canadian news outlets.

What is truly amazing is the extent to which the Canadian military washed its hands of this. They received several reports and complaints, yet simply ignored them. Not only did they ignore them, but they apparently told the troops to do the same, that is they apparently told Canadian forces not to report instances of rape that were witnessed. The Canadian military eventually concluded that the claims of rape were completely unfounded — a conclusion reached after an 11-week investigation. The complaints about the rapes apparently occurred over the course of several years, yet the Canadian military devoted only two and a half months to investigate.

The claim that the rape complaints were unfounded does not seem to hold much water:

In addition, Bolduc said the NIS could find no reports about sexual abuse complaints in the military police system and that allegations of abuse were never reported to the chain of command. “We put a high priority on this investigation,” he noted. “We interviewed all persons who could have information.”

The Ottawa Citizen, however, has obtained a Defence Department e-mail noting that one military police officer in 2005-06 complained about a sexual abuse incident involving Afghans to his chain of command. In that case, the Canadian commander complained to an Afghan officer who put a stop to the abuse. All the documents were obtained through the Access to Information law.

The NIS said it interviewed close to 40 people for its investigation. Bolduc said investigators weren’t sent to Afghanistan because most of the people needed to be interviewed were in Canada.

The latter comment is stunning. The crimes occurred and may still be occurring in Afghanistan, but only 40 people living in Canada were interviewed? That almost appears like a deliberate attempt to avoid coming across information that proves the chain of command did nothing to prevent or stop the rapes.

One would expect to see a greater fallout from this sort of thing. One would expect to read about it in international news outlets or hear about it on cable news channels. Yet, as was mentioned before, no one seems to be talking about this other than the Canadians. It would be very difficult to believe that if there was evidence that the Canadian military deliberately turned a blind eye to the relentless rape of girls that this story would be ignored to this extent.

12 thoughts on “Former Canadian soldier speaks out against ‘disgusting’ child rape in Afghanistan

  1. Perhaps there is another element in play here regarding the lack of will to report these incidents? When Ex-Bishop Robert Weakland was recently interviewed regarding his role in covering up sexual abuse of minors by priests and other sexual misconduct involving priests, he made it very clear that his overriding concern was to avoid making homosexuals out to be the bad guys in all of this. He was afraid that it would renew anti-homosexual sentiment in the laity and in society at large, and was willing to look the other way when sexual abuse cases landed on his desk so that they would avoid scandal. He wrote off the psychological damage to the victims as inconsequential because (I paraphrase) “they would be too young to remember it anyways.” He also denied any knowledge that the pedophilia and ephebophilia going on was criminal, that it was illegal for adults to “have sex” with children. (http://www.jsonline.com/features/religion/45191277.html)

    Perhaps that is a motive of the international agencies and governments involved here as well? The fact that the child abuse is occurring is perhaps less important to some than the possible damage it could do to homosexual activism in the west. Of course they deny the link between pedophilia or sexual abuse and homosexuality, but the association is nevertheless there in cases like this – so the victims of Afghan “cultural practices” can keep on taking it for the team, hip-hip-hoorah for freedom and democracy. And people wonder why they hate us over there.

  2. While I do not think avoiding issues with gay organizations is at work here, even if it was that would not have any impact on the Canadian military’s unwillingness to step in and stop rapes occurring in their presence in Afghanistan. It seems more like the Canadian military simply did not want to get involved because it might cause some slight cultural conflict.

  3. You are probably right – Occam’s Razor and all. A concerted effort at a cover-up is less likely than systemic apathy towards their plight.

  4. I think it is a little bit of both. It is possible that those in command never personally witnessed any rapes or saw the victims afterward. That distance from the act could make them less sympathetic. It is sometimes more difficult to be dismissive when a person is directly confronted a horrible situation.

  5. The Canadian Military is famous for taking the path of least resististance. ie: NO SPINE.

    Instead of standing up for their fellow soldiers, they will let something go on that they know is wrong and should be investigated further.

    Why exactly are we in Afghanistan? Are we there to help the people? Including the children because they are the future of Afghanistan? Cultural practice is a total copout!!!! These kids are in pain and they are not old enough nor do they have the power to say NO.

    I am glad that someone spoke up about it, and I feel for the men that had to witness that and be told that nothing will be done about it. It’s like all the senseless killing and raping that has gone on in other wars of the past. Now these men have to deal with the images and continue on with their lives.

    It’s a very difficult thing, standing up for what you believe and know is wrong even if it means going up against your own military. An army of one after all is said and done, because they sure as heck aren’t going to say “We got your back”.

    Stand up, be proud and march on with your life. I got your back!

  6. try to imagine a teacher in the u. states saying “oh well, i mean, pedophila was practiced by teachers in ancient Greece, so it’s okay…..” and see the response. the problem with cultural relativism rears its head again.

  7. I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that the canadian gov. don’t care less about the people of Afghanistan.This has been proven many times now.When the gov. got this attitude about the afghan people you don’t expect the troops to act in any other way then they are at the present time.NATO and the rest of the foreign troops in afghanistan are part of the problem there.This will end in a disaster for the people of Afghanistan.NATO troops were always a problem where ever they went.The sooner these troops leave Afghanistan the better it will be for the people there.The people of Afghanistan got a better chance of improving their lives without the problem of western imperialism.

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