The unofficial message from the West to victims of oppression is:
“We will liberate you as long as your women agree to service our officials and contractors.”
That is a sad reality of both NATO and United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The U.S. State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2010" highlights the continuing growth of brothels in Kabul following the U.S. invasion in 2001. Many of the victims are poor Afghan women. A press release issued on January 13, 2011, by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul blamed the scandal on lax enforcement against traffickers by the Afghan Government, with no recommendation that the “johns” or clients be prosecuted (because many of them appear to be NATO and U.N. officials and their contractors). The most that the U.S. Embassy would meekly say is that:
“Some international security contractors may be involved in the sex trafficking of these women.” (it is interesting how ineffective U.S. intelligence agencies seem to be at determining brothel ownership in Kabul, despite the importance of the issue due to the use of these facilities by NATO officials)
This issue is not new. The British newspaper “The Sun” ran a story on April 7, 2008 entitled:
“NATO Men Romp in Afghan Brothels”
Sun Defense Editor Tom Newton Dunn detailed how NATO troops were observed drinking contraband alcohol and heading off to rooms with prostitutes. It quoted a NATO official as stating that one out of every five NATO civilians in Afghanistan frequent these brothels. The report quoted Afghan Member of Parliament Shukria Barakzai as stating that if this conduct continues: “They will undermine their reason for being here.”
“After the fall of the Taliban in 2001 women were promised new freedoms. But now many are being forced into prostitution as a result of worsening poverty.”
“Lifting the Veil on the Afghan Sex Trade,” by Rajeshree Sisodia (April 9, 2006) published by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
Richard Lardner, reporting for the “Huffington Post” on November 10, 2009, recounted the testimony of James Gordon, former director of operations for ArmorGroup. Gordon stated he had briefed State Department officials on the fact that ArmorGroup employees were frequenting brothels known to house trafficked women, but the Department refused to take any action.
In “Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War,” appearing at PakPeace.net (July 19, 2009) Tariq Ali wrote:
“Even sympathetic observers admit that their (NATO) alcohol consumption and patronage of a growing number of brothels in Kabul is arousing public anger and resentment. Many who detest the Taliban are so angered by the failures of NATO and the behavior of its troops that they are pleased there is some opposition.”
These outrages are not limited to Afghanistan. In a chilling book: “Rape Warfare - The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia” by Beverly Allen, she reports on numerous sightings during the 1980’s of U.N. personnel and UNPROFOR troops at Serbian rape locations, including Sonja’s Kin Tiki restaurant/rape camp in Vogosca and the Park Hotel also in Vogosca. “Visitors” to these locations allegedly included the U.N. Protection Force Commander in Sarajevo, Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie, along with senior military observer Richard Grey. Witnesses observed New Zealand, French, Ukrainian and African peacekeepers at these locations.
On May 6, 2004, the BBC headline was “Kosovo UN Troops fuel sex trade.” It recited a just-released report from Amnesty International that concluded that UN and NATO troops in Kosovo were helping to promote the forced sexual exploitation of women and of girls as young as 11 years old. The number of locations in Kosovo where such victimization of women and girls took place rose from 18 in 1999 to 200 in 2003. The report stated that the U.N. had quietly reassigned ten police officers, and NATO approximately twenty-seven soldiers, but apparently there were no prosecutions of these men.
An excellent analysis of some of these issues is set out by Carol D. Leonnig of the Washington Post and Nick Schewellenbach of the Center for Public Integrity who co-authored the article, “Despite Allegations, No Prosecutions for War Zone Sex Trafficking,” July 26, 2010.
Al-Qaeda does not have to make up stories about the West abusing Muslim women. Al-Qaeda merely has to report the truth. Continued NATO, U.N. and American silence and inaction as to these abuses is an outrage and may well be helping to fuel the war against the West in Afghanistan.
The first step is to acknowledge the problem. The second step is for NATO and the United Nations to recognize that they cannot deploy two hundred thousand contractors and other civilians into a war zone and not expect this to happen. NATO countries have to begin working to reduce or eliminate their overdependence on contractors and other civilians. Finally, NATO countries and the United Nations need to begin prosecuting their own nationals, soldiers and contractors for sexual misconduct and they need to begin disciplining their own officials when they fail to act against these criminal elements.
For further reading see:
“Sex Trade Thrives in Afghanistan” by Lisa Tang of the Associated Press, June 15, 2008.
“Women trafficked to Afghanistan to meet demand from Westerners” by Jess McCabe, “theFword.org,” June 23, 2008.