American servicemembers who witnessed or were concerned about the sexual abuse of children by Afghan military and police forces in Afghanistan, including so called “boy play,” were told to turn a blind eye to the “custom” and that it was not a priority for the U.S. military there, according to a new U.S. government report.

A servicemember interviewed by the Defense Department’s Inspector General “indicated awareness of an Afghan commander keeping little boys for pleasure,” reads a section of a new IG report, published today [PDF]. “The interviewee reported to the chain of command and had been told, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it,’ ‘It was out of our control,’ ‘This is Afghanistan,’ or ‘It’s their country.'”

Another servicemember said American troops told their command about instances of “bacha bazi,” a local term for boys who are kept by powerful Afghan men as servants and often sexually exploited, but were told to “ignore it and drive on.”

Another stated that during pre-deployment training in North Carolina, he or she was told by instructors that if child abuse was discovered, he or she should report it to local authorities, but otherwise stay out of it “due to maintaining cooperation with the Afghans.”


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Featured image courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps