State Department reports rape of Afghan boys is on the rise

Originally posted on March 25, 2014

I began writing about the growing rate of rape of boys in Afghanistan years ago. Every year I write another post about it because every year another article, interview, or report comes out stating the problem is getting worse and yet no one does anything about it. Of all the reports and articles I read, none focused on the United States’ response to the issue.

To my knowledge, the U.S. government has little concern for boys beyond counting them as enemy combatants or making sure they do not become radicalized. However, it appears the State Department had been conducting research on the matter:

The State Department in its 2013 human rights report on Afghanistan said the sexual abuse of boys, or bacha baazi, is on the rise in the region, with the practice becoming common in Kabul.

“The practice of ‘bacha baazi’ (dancing boys) – which involved powerful or wealthy local figures and businessmen sexually abusing young boys who were trained to dance in female clothes – was on the rise,” the State Department said in its human rights report.

According to the State Department, neither child pornography or the sexual exploitation of children is against Afghan law. One would think, given how keen the United States was to change Afghan law to protect women, that someone would have introduced the idea of making child porn and child rape illegal.

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State Department failed to protect foreign exchange students

Last night, Rock Center aired a piece about the sexual abuse of foreign exchange students. Thousands of students come to the U.S. as part of the exchange program, but because of a lack of oversight, the State Department failed to rigorously check the host family’s background. As a result, dozens of kids were abused, and the State Department has done little to address it. According to Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies:

Through their mismanagement of the program, they essentially are looking the other way. They’re in denial about how much of it actually goes on. I’m ashamed as an American that the government agency that’s responsible for bringing them over under the auspices of [being] about cross-cultural understanding is exercising only token oversight to protect these kids.

The State Department defended the program:

State Department staffers told NBC News tht a fraction of one percent of high school foreign exchange students reported sexual harassment or abuse by a host parent for the 2010-2011 academic school year. The Department said it did not have such data in a central log of complaints until the fall of 2009.

The lack of a log of complaints essentially means no one bothered to track the abuse claims. That makes the State Department’s claim that only a fraction of students were abused ring hollow. How would anyone know how many students were hurt if no one kept track of the complaints? Continue reading