None So Brave

February 4, 2016
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Lieutenant colonel Jeff Cantor, Civil Affairs Team Chief, 353rd Civil Affairs Command, shakes the hand of an Afghan boy outside Bagram Air Force Base in Janquadam, Afghanistan on Sep. 25. Lt. Col Cantor was assisting the Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team with conducting a quality control inspection of a local vineyard. The Team has been in Afghanistan since July working four providences throughout Afghanistan assisting local governments in agricultural development, animal husbandry and land use. (Photo by U.S. Spc. Matthew McKinny, Task Force Cyclone, 38th Infantry Division)

(Photo by U.S. Spc. Matthew McKinny, Task Force Cyclone, 38th Infantry Division)

“De Oppresso Liber” (To Liberate the Oppressed) ~~Motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces

A poignant Afghan proverb declares, “Cowards cause harm to brave men.”

This ancient Pashtun adage reflects the shocking story of U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Charles Martland; Martland is the brave man, a soldier who saved the life of an Afghan boy who was abducted, held, and abused as a sex slave by an Afghan police chief, Abdul Rahman, the vicious, powerful, and arrogant coward. The incomprehensible harm to Martland resides in the inexplicable action taken by the U.S. Army. The Army disciplined Martland, relieved him from his duty post in Afghanistan, and is now seeking to involuntarily discharge him from military service.

What was the dreadful and dischargeable infraction by the highly decorated Green Beret Charles Martland?

In 2011, Martland and his Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn (who has since resigned from the military) physically assaulted Abdul Rahman, after learning that Rahman had abducted a boy, chained him to a bed, repeatedly abused him as a sex slave and beat up the boy’s mother when she sought to find and rescue her son. The Green Berets intervened when they discovered that the boy was being raped and held as a sex slave. According to the Martland and Quinn, the Afghan villagers were pleading with them to do something about repeated sexual assaults against children by the Afghan police.

Here is the dirty, not so little secret of Afghanistan: The sexual abuse of children is widespread and embedded into the Afghan Pashtun culture. There is scant prosecution of child sex exploitation in Afghanistan. American military have long been saddled with the knowledge of the Afghan practice of “bacha bazi,” translated as dancing boys. Bacha Bazi is the ancient and widespread practice of Afghan men who abduct and lure poor boys into the grisly world of child sex slavery where they are raped and exploited by Afghan men. Frontline exposed this lurid child sex trafficking trade.

U.S. Military stationed in Afghanistan experience the hideous reality that children are expendable in the feckless Afghan criminal justice system. Cultural mores trump human rights among the tribesman of Afghanistan.

This wasn’t the first time that Martland and Quinn experienced inaction from the Afghan government for serious child sexual exploitation crimes committed by the Afghan police force. Martland and Quinn knew that two Afghan commanders were not prosecuted nor punished for the rape of a 15 year old girl and the honor killing of an Afghan commander’s 12 year old daughter who kissed a boy. Martland who was fed up with the ongoing sexual exploitation of children by Afghan officials said, “I felt that morally we could no longer stand by and allow our Afghan Commanders to commit these atrocities.”

Since when is a highly decorated Green Beret who confronts a violent child sex predator and trafficker and woman beater, punished and involuntarily discharge from the military?

What happened to the greatest military and force for moral good on the face of the planet? Isn’t Martland carrying out the very anti human trafficking policies promulgated by the Obama Administration?

Obama’s administration, including his Pentagon, endlessly promotes and spends millions on sexual assault and human trafficking programs, policies and media messaging. The very human rights violations perpetrated upon innocent Afghan children are the ones which this Administration is demanding action to enforce zero tolerance:

1.U.S. Department of Defense Policy Against Human Trafficking. In the press release praising the ongoing military awareness training of human trafficking, the Army media alert highlights the annual training and progress for DoD’s military as “driving home the department’s ‘zero tolerance’ for slavery and human trafficking.”

Apparently, that DoD zero tolerance policy doesn’t apply to Captain Quinn and Sgt. Martland. Is it simply awareness, but no action to stop human trafficking and sex slavery? Zero tolerance means stopping the cultural and systemic abduction and sex slavery of young Afghan boys. Is the DoD training report mere lip service and media hype to convince Americans that the U.S. military fights human trafficking and sex slavery?

The DoD press release ends with the ironic caveat that “military leadership also plays a critical awareness role in preventing such crimes.” Sgt. Martland and Captain Dan Quinn are military leaders who ‘prevented’ further human trafficking crimes and are now paying for it with their military careers.

2.President Obama’s Speech to the Clinton Global Initiative

President Obama reiterated his administration’s zero tolerance policy for human trafficking during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. “[i]t ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name–modern slavery…We’re shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists…We will have zero tolerance. We mean what we say. We will enforce it….” “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it.”

Contrary to President Obama, ‘we don’t mean what we say’ when it comes to zero tolerance for human trafficking, if the U.S. Military punishes its soldiers for trying to stop modern sex slavery of children and protect them from further abuse.

3.U.S. Department of State Human Trafficking Report on Afghanistan-2013

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Statement about Human Trafficking: “When we bring victims out of exploitation, we are helping to create more stable and productive communities. When we stop this crime from happening in the first place, we are preventing the abuse of those who are victimized as well as the ripple effect that caused damage throughout communities into our broader environment and which corrupt our global supply chains. We all have an interest in stopping this crime. And that’s why, as Secretary of State, I will continue to make the fight against modern-day slavery a priority for this Department and for the country.”

Sgt. Martland confronted a powerful child predator who fostered and perpetuated child sex trafficking. Martland rescued an Afghan child who was abducted and kept as a sex slave. His brave actions saved a life and prevented further child molestation. By exposing the perpetrator, Martland’s heroic action fostered to use Kerry’s words ‘a more stable and productive community and brought a victim out of exploitation.’

4. U.S. State Department’s Afghanistan Country Report: 2013 Tier Two Watch list.

The U.S. State Department highly criticized the cultural practices of child sex slavery and the inability of the Afghan government to prosecute these crimes. It described the lawlessness in Afghanistan and the utter failure to stem human trafficking and the systematic abuse of children. “The Government of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Government officials’ complicity in trafficking remained a serious problem. The level of understanding of human trafficking among Afghan government officials remained very low.”

The State Department Trafficking Report condemned in very strong terms the total breakdown of Afghan legal authority to end child sex slavery. Yet, Martland is punished for taking action to protect children from Afghan predators in the police force?

“The majority of Afghan victims are children subjected to human trafficking in carpet-making and brick kiln factories and domestic servitude, and in commercial sexual exploitation, begging, and transnational drug smuggling within Afghanistan and in Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Some Afghan families knowingly sell their children for forced prostitution, including for bacha bazi— where wealthy or influential men, including government officials and security forces, use young boys for social and sexual entertainment.” “Government officials, including law enforcement and judicial officials, continued to have a limited understanding of human trafficking.”

Despite the State Department’s Afghanistan country report which paints a very dismal and highly dangerous environment for vulnerable children, our military must acquiesce in the face of brutality of women and children, but remain powerless to stop the ongoing exploitation?

Due to the advocacy of Congressmen Mac Thornberry and Duncan Hunter, the Army has delayed the discharge of Special Forces Charles Martland for another 60 days to file an appeal. Representative Hunter wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, “Martland stood up to a child rapist. I trust that you will give this case the attention it demands.”

The dirty secret is now exposed. The widespread abusive pederasty and sex slavery of Afghan boys can no longer be ignored. The motto of the Special Forces is to free the oppressed. None are more oppressed than innocent Afghan boys who are abducted from their homes, chained to beds and sexually brutalized at the cruel hands of powerful Afghan officials. Quinn and Martland freed that little boy from oppressive brutality and a childhood of unspeakable horror.

Captain Quinn and Sgt.Martland should be awarded Army medals commendations, not discharge papers for freeing the oppressed and exhibiting heroism and standing up for zero tolerance for the violation of greatest of human rights, the protection of the innocent.

Please consider signing this Petition in support of Sgt. Martland and send a strong and united message to the U.S. Army that Sgt. Martland is a hero for rescuing children from sex slavery in conformity with international human rights laws and U.S. State Department policy. Here

Elizabeth Yore is an international child rights attorney who rescued missing and abducted children around the world. She has served as General Counsel and Director of the International Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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Lessons from the Sandusky Trial

June 26, 2012

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Grown men should not shower with boys, ever.

A man with a Heart of Gold does not mean he is safe with children.

Single mothers are tougher than any defensive coordinator.

Cover ups always end up being uncovered.

Predators choose their victims carefully, looking for vulnerability.

Beware of men bearing gifts for your children.

Just because he is married doesn’t mean he is safe around children.

Just because there is a wife in the house, doesn’t mean your child should stay overnight.

Beware of a man who always surrounds himself with young boys.

Child sexual abuse rarely is disclosed, often denied, and always leaves permanent scars.

If a child is being abused, call 911 or child protective services.

Don’t ever let the status of the perpetrator intimidate you.

Be ever vigilant of children and take action when warranted.

The “noise” and gossip about Sandusky was accurate and should have been acted on.

Sexual attraction to children destroys lives of victims.

Predators grow old, but seldom stop abusing children. Ignoring sexual abuse will only cause more victims to be abused.

Child predators don’t stop.

Telling them not to shower with boys is silly, useless and meaningless to predators.

Not every child who comes in contact with a predator is abused, only the vulnerable ones.

Parents pay attention to the little signs and changes in your child’s behavior.

Mothers must stand up to powerful institutions that won’t protect children.

Believe children.

Children are always threatened by their abusers to remain silent.

Where there is one child victim, there are countless others.

© Elizabeth Yore-2012 All Rights Reserved.

Elizabeth Yore is the former Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc.where she served as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. She was also the former General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

 

The Noise Heard ‘Round the Country

June 15, 2012

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This past week the country has been spellbound by the gut wrenching testimony emanating from the Sandusky child sex abuse trial courtroom leaving spectators and jurors in tears. While Jerry Sandusky is presumed innocent, the lurid and detailed account of his alleged abuse should not come as a surprise. 

The steady stream of victims relate Sandusky’s classic grooming and seduction  techniques. The calculating and manipulating PSU defensive coordinator chose his victims carefully; victims were either foster children or from single family homes and all from the Second Mile Charity founded by Sandusky. These were high risk children and Sandusky played high risk stakes with their lives.

Why did this go on for over a decade? Why didn’t someone think it strange that Jerry Sandusky was always surrounded with young boys? Were the adults waiting for the children to disclose the abuse? Jerry’s alleged victims, like most victims of sexual abuse, were threatened by Jerry to stay silent.

In 1998, two boys did disclose Jerry’s sexual abuse. Yet, no one reported their allegations about Jerry to local or state law enforcement. The boys’ voices were muffled to protect the powerful Penn State institution. 

Surely, the adults on campus and in the football program were suspicious of Jerry’s behavior. The court testimony, as well as the grand jury report, paint the same picture: Jerry Sandusky was always surrounded by young boys, in coaches’ meetings, on the sidelines, at out-of-state Bowl Games, in the locker room showers. Did everyone look the other way because Jerry was the prominent defensive coordinator and exposing Jerry Sandusky would bring scandal to the storied Penn State football program. 

Of all the grueling testimony, one witness provided the reason that Jerry Sandusky was able roam free and abuse so many boys for so many years.

John McQueary, father of Mike McQueary, testified that after the shower incident witnessed by his son, he met with Gary Schultz, then Vice President of Penn State. 

In the meeting, Schultz told John McQueary that he had heard “noise” about Sandusky, even before Mike McQueary’s report.  

Noise?

Oh, how flippant of you, Mr. Schultz. 

Was the “noise” that Jerry Sandusky liked little boys?

Was the “noise” that Jerry was creepy and showered with little boys?

Did the roar of the fans from the PSU football stadium drown out the “noise” about Jerry Sandusky? 

Did you hear about the “slapping noise” described by Mike McQueary as he walked into shower and saw the boy being sexually assaulted by Sandusky? 

Was that “noise” muffled by the fear of a scandal to the premiere PSU football legacy? 

Did you dismiss the noise, as annoying racket, or mere gossip, or just distracting chatter about boys from high risk homes?  

Did you ever once, stop to think that the “noise” might be true?

Did you ever once, stop to think that the “noise” was about the sexual abuse of young, defenseless, little boys?

Did you ever once ponder the “noise” of the boy victims as they cried themselves to sleep?

What was done about all the “noise” surrounding Jerry Sandusky? 

Silence. 

There is an African proverb, “Much silence makes a powerful noise.”

Surely, the “noise” about Jerry Sandusky’s strange and troubling behavior reached a fever pitch, yet no one at Penn State reported him to law enforcement. 

The noise was drowned out by silence. 

When adults remain silent in the face of child abuse, a powerful noise will eventually emerge in the cries of adults who have silently suffered through abuse as children. The country is now listening to the voices of the victims of Sandusky. The noise is deafening.

As children, they were threatened into silence by the powerful Sandusky. As adults, their words  now overshadow the once prestigious PSU football program. 

As adult victims of childhood abuse, their voices drown out the roar of the Nittany Lions.

The silence from the boy victims of Jerry Sandusky has been broken. 

Oh, what a powerful noise from the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. 

The jury will not be silent.

 


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