Child Rape in Afghanistan and Hollywood

Joshua Foust continues to call attention to widespread and institutionalized child rape — mostly man-on-boy — in Afghanistan, this time with a report that Canadian soldiers had been quietly told to ignore the practice because we needed the cooperation of the leaders doing the raping. Steve Hynd, naturally, wonders why this isn’t widely reported and why senior U.S. officials aren’t being asked about American policy on this troubling issue.

Meanwhile, Jim Henley (via Google Reader) encapsulates my immediate reaction: “This problem could be solved if the Afghan security forces would make a few well-regarded movies.”

Snark aside, this just highlights the impossibility of our mission in Afghanistan.  How, precisely, are we to inculcate a Western-style civil society in a culture so utterly barbaric?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    This article in the Atlantic from 2007 is instructive about the cognitive dissonance regaring homosexuality in strict Islamic countries.

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I thought our mission was more about creating a stable central government based upon democratic principles in order to keep the country from becoming a terrorist haven? Introducing western morals is not a priority.

  3. How, precisely, are we to inculcate a Western-style civil society in a culture so utterly barbaric?

    I’m sorry, we’re you discussing Afghanistan or Hollywood?

  4. General Napier’s words regarding the clash of cultures and the practice of sati in India also come to mind:

    You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

    We don’t have to change the Afghans, but we shouldn’t abandon our sense of propriety either. If that makes me a cultural imperialist, so be it.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Steven Plunk, the Taliban obtained some of its legitimacy from taking a stand on child rape. It’s mentioned in the Foust piece. To the extent we are seeking to win hearts in minds and protect the people as part of a counterinsurgency campaign, we need to be offering a better future than the Taliban. I think we would have to do something, at least to the extent cultural norms exist and they do.

    On the other hand, if we are drawing down to a smaller mission of denial of space and preventing Afghanistan from being the base for destabilizing Pakistan, then we are going to be lying with dogs. We will be working with the type of raping, murderous tyrants that governed Afghanistan prior to the Taliban, just making them more effective in preventing any Islamist uprising.

    I don’t think our strategic decision should be based upon the issue of child rape, which is difficult to police regardless. But this issue seems to illustrate the difficulties with our choices.

  6. Steve Hynd says:

    I think this may be the first time I’ve agreed 100% with Charles Austin. Nice quote.

    Regards, Steve

  7. Steve Plunk says:

    PD, I see your point but first we must take care of higher priority issues. The problems with Afghan civility should be addressed after some measure of stability is attained. Perhaps the NGOs can work on the cultural problems and hopefully other Muslims can come in and work on the problem of child rape. I just don’t see soldiers as agents of change on this.

    This is a difficult but surmountable problem. Perhaps our “reset” with other countries could convince them to help. Especially those middle eastern countries that are somewhat similar culturally.

  8. peterh says:

    How, precisely, are we to inculcate a Western-style civil society in a culture so utterly barbaric?

    Bring in the Christian missionaries and get all those abused and non-abused boys and girls into Christian youth programs cuz they’ve had lots of practice and a need for fresh fodder

    On a serious note, anyone that feels a “western-style civil society” will go a long way towards reducing rape, pedophilia, bestiality, homosexuality, fornication is living with blinders on. Those things have been going on since before recorded history and will continue to exist in every culture, civilized or not. That doesn’t mean I condone it….at least the first two ;-)…..it just won’t ever be eradicated. I believe the only real difference between different cultures is how the elite are treated when caught in the act and/or how the lower tier are treated.

  9. Steve Verdon says:

    peterh,

    In your desire to reduce all cultures to being equal on a moral note you fail to note that in Western culture child rape is pretty much a universal no-no while it does not appear to be the case in the Afghan culture.

    Yes, it still happens here, but the thing is people are repulsed and disgusted by it, we don’t condone it and engage in it in such a wonton manner.

  10. peterh says:

    Steve…..I’m gonna step out on the limb that I feel you’re already on and disagree with your stance on Afghan culture because it is a universal no-no with regard to rape (not just child rape) and pedophilia…..even in Afghan culture….I would challenge you point out a culture (still in existence) that would condone someone walking into your house, raping your child and then giving him a high-five on the way out.

    I feel it is easy to reduce all cultures to being equal with regard to the above, but where the equality breaks down is in how the respective parties are treated after the fact. Let me preface that by stating that these acts are not being done in the middle of town square. There’re being done outside the general public eye. That’s not to say the public is unaware, in many cases, they may be just powerless to do anything about it, hence, my elite and lower tier comment…..and you’ll most certainly agree that even in Western Culture, there are examples of members of the elite that have walked away from the above with just a little scaring. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find examples where the lower tier is not dealt with in a harsh manner…..in any culture….

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    Bring in the Christian missionaries and get all those abused and non-abused boys and girls into Christian youth programs cuz they’ve had lots of practice and a need for fresh fodder

    Typically liberal, confusing Christians with catholics and and other crazy dogmatic sects.

    How about sending in this liberal think tank and maybe we can toss in the liberal protection agency ACLU so they can just spread the beauty of love and understanding and stop the rape?

    http://www.nambla.org/

  12. Steve Verdon says:

    Steve…..I’m gonna step out on the limb that I feel you’re already on and disagree with your stance on Afghan culture because it is a universal no-no with regard to rape (not just child rape) and pedophilia…..even in Afghan culture….I would challenge you point out a culture (still in existence) that would condone someone walking into your house, raping your child and then giving him a high-five on the way out.

    Really? Sorry, I read Fousts articles and I don’t get the feeling they look at it quite the same way we do. Hamid Karzai released two child rapists after their mother begged him to release her sons. I can’t imagine that happening here…well save maybe in Hollywood or the Catholic Church.

    I feel it is easy to reduce all cultures to being equal with regard to the above, but where the equality breaks down is in how the respective parties are treated after the fact. Let me preface that by stating that these acts are not being done in the middle of town square. There’re being done outside the general public eye.

    Really? Read Foust who points out that the Canadian soldiers are quite aware of what is going on, but couldn’t stop it and are now seeking therapy.