As navy lore goes, submariners deploy as 110 men and return as 55 couples. But hey, they’re not gay because they are deployed, right?
Holding hands, beard rubs, chai boys, dancing boys, and Bacha Bazi. It’s ok because it’s Afghanistan, right?
A Human Terrain Team (HTT) attached to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Battalion in Helmand province documented even more hideous cultural norms among the friendly, peace-loving, muslims that make up much of the country in a report documenting the culturally accepted pedophilia embedded in the Pashtun culture of Afghanistan: Pashtun Sexuality. Attributing much of the behavior to misapplication of principles from the Koran, the breadth of deviance from western cultural norms speak to deeply-rooted beliefs that are nearly incompatible with a healthy society and are unlikely to be overcome with computers and literacy training:
[A U.S. Army medic] and her male colleagues were approached by a local gentleman seeking advice on how his wife could become pregnant. When it was explained to him what was necessary, he reacted with disgust and asked “How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.”
Fox News uncovered the HTT report in January 2010 and filed this report: Afghan Men Struggle With Sexual Identity, Study Finds. Save yourself the read–Afghans are not “struggling” with their sexual identity; they are completely comfortable with it. PBS filed the documentary, The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, in April of 2010 which exposes the sex-trade in the country where families sell there sons to wealthy men for entertainment. In Afghanistan, such Bacha Bazi are regarded as a status symbol.
Do U.S. senior leaders read these stories? What do they think, “Let’s teach women to fly helicopters and then the men will desire them instead of boys?” The culture has marginalized women so much than men prefer boys over women! What are we thinking when we try to integrate women into the ANSF (at great expense no less)? That somehow the men will respect them and finally find them “clean?”
The opening lines of Maura Reynolds’ Los Angeles Times report in April 2003 gives the following account:
In his 29 years, Mohammed Daud has seen the faces of perhaps 200 women. A few dozen were family members. The rest were glimpses stolen when he should not have been looking and the women were caught without their face-shrouding burkas. “How can you fall in love with a girl if you can’t see her face?” he asks.
Daud is unmarried and has sex only with men and boys. But he does not consider himself homosexual, at least not in the Western sense. “I like boys, but I like girls better,” he says. “It’s just that we can’t see the women to see if they are beautiful. But we can see the boys, and so we can tell which of them is beautiful.”
These stories reflect behavior embedded far more deeply than most westerners think. It’s natural to think “They’re just like us” but spend a little time with them and you learn that they do think differently. That said, attempts to westernize their military and modernize their country reflect just as greatly on the coalition as Afghan behavior does their culture. The big question is not “can Afghanistan be a stable hedge against terrorism” but “can a culture so foreign to the west sustain a modern, pro-western government military?” As an aside, is the behaviour environmentally or genetically driven?
At least in Iraq some of the men like women: an Iraqi officer (with four wives) offered a concubine to a fellow officer in Iraq, “because it was unacceptable for a man to abstain from sex during long separations from wives” and “it was ok in Islam.”
Where the hadiths speak of 72 virgins, the Pashtuns are not thinking of 72 women. Blame it on their DNA.