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U.S. Tax Dollars Fund Child Sex Slavery in Afghanistan, Attack on Freedom of Expression

December 10, 2010



Please click on and sign the following two petition messages:

1.  Tell the UN to Stop Child Trafficking via Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan

2. The vicious intimidation campaign against WikiLeaks is a dangerous attack on freedom of expression and the press.



1. BACKGROUND | From Change.org , By Amanda Kloer

The now infamous Wikileaks recently released a cable from Afghanistan revealing U.S. government contractor DynCorp threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring trafficked boys as the entertainment. Bacha bazi is the Afghan tradition of “boy play” where young boys are dressed up in women’s clothing, forced to dance for leering men, and then sold for sex to the highest bidder. Apparently this is the sort of “entertainment” funded by your tax dollars when DynCorp is in charge of security in Afghanistan.

DynCorp is a government contractor which has been providing training for Afghan security and police forces for several years. Though the company is about as transparent as a lead-coated rock, most reports claim over 95% of their budget comes from U.S. taxpayers. That’s the same budget that DynCorp used to pay for a party in Kunduz Province for some Afghan police trainees. The entertainment for the evening was bacha bazi boys, whose pimps were paid so the boys would sing and dance for the recruits and then be raped by them afterward. That’s your tax dollars at work — fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghnistan by trafficking little boys for sex with cops-in-training.

In fact, the evidence linking DynCorp to bacha bazi was so damning, Afghan Minister of the Interior Hanif Atmar tried to quash the story. Upon hearing a journalist was investigating DynCorp and the U.S. government’s funding of the sex trafficking of young boys in Afghanistan, Atmar warned any publication of the story would “endanger lives,” and requested the U.S. suppress the story. Atmar admitted he had arrested eleven Afghans nationals as “facilitators” of the bacha bazi party. But he was only charging them with “purchasing a service from a child,” which is illegal under Sharia law and the civil code. And in this case “services” is not used as a euphemism for sex; so far, no one is being held accountable for the young boys whose rapes were paid for by the U.S. taxpayers.

As if this story couldn’t get any more outrageous, Atmar went on to say that if news of the incident got out, he was “worried about the image of foreign mentors”. In other words, why should something as piddling as the humiliation, objectification, sale, and rape of some children tarnish the good name of DynCorp and all the work (read: money) they’re doing in Afghanistan? After all, bacha bazi is growing in popularity in Afghanistan, especially in areas like Kunduz. Why shouldn’t U.S. government contractors be able to win local favor by pimping young boys?

Of course, this isn’t the first time DynCorp has used U.S. tax dollars to support sex trafficking.  In Bosnia in 1999, Kathryn Bolkovac was fired from the company after blowing the whistle on DynCorp’s staffers pimping out girls as young as 12 from Eastern European countries. DynCorp settled a lawsuit involving Bolkovac, and her story was recently featured in The Whistleblower, where she was portrayed by Rachel Weiss. It’s a happy ending for one DynCorp whistle blower, but will there be a Bolkovac in Afghanistan?

It’s time American taxpayers demanded a zero tolerance policy on our money being used to support child sex trafficking overseas. Tell the UN Mission to Afghanistan the time has come to crack down on those who buy and sell boys in bacha bazi, whether they’re Afghans or U.S. government contractors, security personnel or citizens. No one should be able to traffic children so sex and get away with it, and that includes repeat offender DynCorp. We have a right to demand our tax dollars go to fight trafficking, not support it. And we have a right to demand the U.S. government and their contractors be held accountable for exploiting the boys of Afghanistan.

MESSAGE TEXT

I am writing to voice my extreme concern about the practice of bacha bazi in Afghanistan. Bacha bazi is a form of child sex trafficking which must stop immediately.

The bacha bazi tradition, which literally means “boy play” has deep roots in Afghan culture. For centuries, wealthy men have been buying orphans or boys from poor families, dressing them in women’s clothing, and paying them to sing and dance for entertainment. After the bacha party, the boy is auctioned off to the highest bidder or shared by several men for sex. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, they banned the practice, and it remains illegal today. But since the Taliban was ousted, the tradition has been revived and is growing.

Bacha bazi boys are usually teens, but many are as young as 11. Most of them come from very poor families or are orphans from the war. Boys are lured off the street or bought from family members by businessmen. Then, they are usually kept in a house with other boys, trained sing, dance, and play musical instruments. They are also introduced to the commercial sex industry, ususally by being raped by the men who train them or sold for sex out of the backseat of cars.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of bacha bazi is how quickly the practice is being revived in Afghanistan and how little police and security forces are doing to stop it. In fact, uniformed Afghan police officers have even been witnessed procuring young boys in broad daylight. And according to a recent report from UNICEF, many of the men who participate in bacha bazi work for the Afghan government, including those who publicly denounce the practice. But even the Afghan authorities who aren’t actively participating in bacha bazi are refusing to broach the taboo subject or arrest and prosecute those who commit bacha bazi.

The UN should make cracking down on those who trafficking children via bacha bazi a priority. Men who traffick boys for sex or buy sex with boys should be prosecuted and given appropriate sentences.

 

Related, zipcode-based policy | Officials issue national strategy to fight child sex crimes

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Together we’re really sending what I believe is an important message: that the US government and our nation’s Department of Justice have never been more committed to protecting our children and to bringing offenders to justice ……….

Eric Holder, US Attorney General, August 2010

 

 


2. BACKGROUND | From AVAAZ

The vicious intimidation campaign against WikiLeaks is a dangerous attack on freedom of expression and the press. Top US politicians have branded WikiLeaks a terrorist organization, and urged corporations to shut it down. Commentators have even suggested assassinating its staff.

Whatever we think of WikiLeaks, legal experts say it has likely broken no laws, and the group works with leading newspapers (NYT, Guardian, Spiegel) to carefully vet what it publishes – so far less than 1% of the cables leaked to it.

We urgently need a massive public outcry to defend our basic democratic freedoms. Sign the petition to stop the crackdown — let’s reach 1 million voices this week!

MESSAGE TEXT

To the U.S. and other governments and corporations involved in the crackdown on WikiLeaks:

We call on you to stop the crackdown on WikiLeaks and its partners immediately. We urge you to respect democratic principles and laws of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. If WikiLeaks and the journalists it works with have violated any laws they should be pursued in the courts with due process. They should not be subjected to an extra-judicial campaign of intimidation.

 

 

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