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Sexual abuse in Afghanistan is a human rights violation

By James Grant, For The Miami Student

The combat mission in Afghanistan, formally know as Operation Enduring Freedom, officially ended Dec. 28, 2014. President Barack Obama gave the statement, concluding the longest war in the history of our country. The Afghanistan War left 2,356 American soldiers dead. Although the combat struggle has officially ceased, the United States will keep roughly 13,000 troops, including 10,000 Americans, in Afghanistan for up to two years. The purpose of the ongoing military occupation of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan is to train and advise Afghan allies against the Taliban.

Nine months have gone by since President Obama officially ended the combative role that the U.S. military played in Afghanistan. A national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center from May 12 to 18 among 2,002 adults, found that roughly 58 percent of the adults surveyed support President Obama's plan to delay the troop pullout in Afghanistan.

On March 24 of this year, the White House announced it would slow the process of removing the United State's military presence in Afghanistan. In his announcement, the President said, "We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to help the Afghan forces succeed, so we don't have to go back."

The majority of the public supports your plan, Mr. President, but how effectively is our military presence asserting stability in such a volatile region of the world? If the goal of American military presence is to create and maintain democratic stability, along with other American values like preservation of human rights, we need to shed a light on the performance of those in command.

In his December 2014 speech, President Obama complimented our military and praised them for promoting American values in Afghanistan. He said, "Our military remains the finest in the world, and we will remain vigilant against terrorist attacks and in defense of the freedoms and values we hold dear."

A recent article published by the New York Times this past Monday would seem to suggest that American military officials are undermining the push for our democratic values and the protection of human rights in the region. The article, titled "U.S. Troops Told to Ignore Afghans Abuse of Boys," gives a horrific account of human rights violations that are occurring in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The Afghan allies, who are currently being trained by U.S. soldiers, are sexually abusing young boys in the area. This sexual abuse has long been a problem in and around the city of Kabul. There is a term for this practice called bacha bazi, which directly translates to "boy play." American soldiers can do nothing to stop the Afghans from engaging in this inhumane behavior for fear of dishonorable discharge.

"At night we can hear them screaming, but were not allowed to do anything about it," said Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. to the Times.

The policy of looking away from sexual abuse surely is not a policy we adopt domestically, so why should it be a policy in foreign affairs? Members of our armed forces should not be punished for intervening in instances of rape.

For instance, then Special Forces captain Dan Quinn beat up an Afghan military leader in 2011 for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. Subsequently, the Army relieved him of his command post and he has since deactivated from the U.S. Armed Services.

The United States continually strives to fight for human rights. This is a duty of our country and a value in its own sake; a value that should not be held within our nations borders but should be voiced throughout the world. When our military can hear the screams of a boy or girl who is being deprived of a basic human right, why do we sit idle? Why do we turn our heads to such barbaric behavior? These questions remain unanswered by our leaders, but it is necessary to shed a light on this issue so that our great nation can solve the problem.

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As Thomas Jefferson once said, "We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties."