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MARTLAND Act Moves in Congress as ACLJ Takes on Child Exploitation at UN


Benjamin P. Sisney

March 8, 2016

4 min read

Human Rights



We have two important updates to share as we continue our work to obtain justice for Sergeant First Class (SFC) Charles Martland and to stop the disturbing practice of sexual abuse against Afghan boys brought to light by SFC Martland’s brave actions.

SFC Martland is the Green Beret and Bronze Star recipient set to be expelled from the Army for protecting a young boy from sexual abuse at the hands of an “allied” Afghan commander.  The injustice of his punishment has helped shine a spotlight on an appalling Department of Defense (DoD) policy reportedly requiring service members to look the other way when encountering child sexual abuse perpetrated by our so-called “allies” overseas.

Now Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has announced plans to introduce the MARTLAND Act. “The bill makes it the official policy of the United States that sex abuse of any kind by an American or foreign national is not permitted” on any U.S. military installations, said Rep. Hunter’s chief of staff, Joe Kasper.

The MARTLAND Act adds child abuse to the list of conduct not to be tolerated on U.S. military installations, like prostitution, forced labor and trafficking, which have already been addressed by the DoD. Importantly, it would also require the DoD to submit a comprehensive plan to Congress outlining how the new policy against child abuse will be implemented.

It’s shameful that DoD needs such an express direction to protect children on U.S. military installations.  And we applaud Rep. Hunter’s efforts to close the loophole exploited by DoD in its unsound and misguided quest for “tolerance” at all costs. We urge Congress to quickly move the MARTLAND Act to passage and place the bill on President Obama’s desk.   

As we continue to push here in Washington, our work to protect the children at the heart of this matter – suffering sexual torture – continues before the United Nations (U.N.), as well.  Yesterday, Dr. Grégor Puppinck, the director of our European affiliate the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), delivered an oral statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council, urging action to stop the sexual exploitation and torture of children:  

Children are too often the victims of sexual exploitation and violence, both in the context of information and communication technologies as well as in the context of local traditions.

Both HT and traditional sexual exploitation are now combined.

The European Centre for Law and Justice is active in denouncing and combating child sexual exploitation and dedicated to protect children from pornography. Online pornography, using children or accessible to children is a physical and a widespread moral violence. Information and communication technologies are most of the time the cause of the sexual violence than a way to solve it.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for a better regulation of the Internet to protect children.

The ECLJ also wants to denounce here the practice of bacha bazi, because it is well established and accepted in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Bacha bazi means ‘boy play’ and is a prominent customary practice of the Pashtun culture, which involves the exploitation of young boys for sexual entertainment and pleasure. Boys between the ages of nine and eighteen are sold or given to men who force the young boys to dance seductively and perform sexual favors.  The boys are often beaten and injured physically, in some cases to death.

Those sexual performances may also be diffused on the internet.

This disturbing practice is so prevalent that a study reported that one out of every ten Afghan boys has been the victim of human trafficking. Yet, the International Community has mostly ignored this horrific practice and allowed it to flourish.

Those children deserve the protection of the laws, even if the States tolerate those practices and do not fulfill their international commitments.

Thank you Mr. President.

These statements follow the written statement we recently submitted, and we will continue to call for action at the U.N. and elsewhere. As we’ve explained before, the failure of world leadership, including President Obama’s State Department, to intervene on behalf of victimized children is immoral.  It must stop. 

We will continue to press here in Washington and at the United Nations.  But we need your voice.  The children need your voice.  Sign our Petition and demand justice for “the least of these” today.  And continue to sign our petition in defense of SFC Martland who was willing to take action to defend these children from this evil.

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