KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Afghanistan's government will work to eradicate the practice of child sexual abuse, President Ashraf Ghani said after reports U.S. troops in the country were ordered to ignore incidents they witnessed.
"Six-year-, 8-year-, 10-year-olds are raped, and I'm not going to tolerate this," Ghani said in Kabul in a video conference interview Wednesday. "To the extent to which the authority of the state can be harnessed to this task, we are going to focus on it and not permit it. The laws, culture and religious values of the people of Afghanistan recognize sexual abuse of children as one of the severest crimes and violations of human rights.
"We will take action, ranging from removing people from the security forces to introducing them to the courts," he said. "The larger cultural dynamic needs time."
Sexual abuse of boys, among Afghanistan's wealthy and prominent classes of men, is a widespread practice and a target for human rights groups, The New York Times reported. The practice, banned while the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, is common among Afghan military commanders and recently received global attention after returning U.S. troops pointed out the unofficial policy was to try to ignore it.
Gen. John Campbell, leader of the U.S.-led coalition, has denied there is a policy of ignoring examples of child abuse on Afghan military bases, saying in a statement, "I want to make absolutely clear that any sexual abuse or similar mistreatment of others, no matter the alleged perpetrator or victim, is completely unacceptable and reprehensible."