Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Soldier Punished for Interfering in Alleged Assault on Child

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Soldier Punished for Interfering in Alleged Assault on Child

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon and the White House condemned on Monday reports that Afghan forces who worked with U.S. military personnel sexually assaulted boys, and members of Congress complained about a U.S. soldier being forced out of the military because he intervened in 2011, attacking an Afghan police commander he believed was raping a child. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and others are questioning whether the U.S. military routinely discouraged troops from intervening in such sexual assaults. Hunter said Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland must leave the Army by Nov. 1, because his intervention to stop a child rape triggered a negative mark on his service record.

Hunter is asking Defense Secretary Ash Carter to review the case, saying he has little confidence that the Army leaders will admit they made an error in deciding to punish Martland.

"I hope that when making a decision between supporting an elite warrior like Martland or a child rapist and criminal, the organizations or individuals in a position to make a decision will side with Martland, Hunter said in a letter to Carter earlier this month.

Defense officials would not comment on the specifics of the case.

- The Associated Press

-- The Davis told reporters on Monday that U.S. troops can report such incidents through their chain of command, but added that sexual assault of children, "while abhorrent, it's fundamentally an Afghan law enforcement matter."

The State Department, in its annual human rights report, has consistently said that sexual abuse of children remains pervasive in Afghanistan. And it documents the practice called "bacha bazi" - which means dancing boys. Bacha Baazi involves the sexual abuse of boys, often by powerful or wealthy local businessmen, who sexually abuse young boys trained to dance in female clothes.

In its 2014 report, the State Department said that many child sexual abusers are not arrested, and "there were reports security officials and those connected to the ANP (Afghan National Police) raped children with impunity."

A number of U.S. House and Senate members have asked the Army about Martland's case. …

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