Children Of War [prostitution and sex trafficking in US wars]

Anonyme, Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 21:08

Sudhama Ranganathan

America, the country I live in, is a great nation and despite the flaws characterizing all great nations throughout history we try and hold hope our leaders try to do what's right (most of the time). No matter our political differences and beliefs most of us are loyal to and have faith in our country. Where there are issues, it's not that we wish to give up on the good old US. In fact it's just the opposite, we simply want to see things fixed here and there, just the process of refinement as allowed for by our constitution. That's part of the reason for and greatness of our political system; having the voices of the many collaborate to resolve the numerous areas different sides have issues with and to come to common solutions regarding those places there are numerous visions for correcting any particular issue.

Part of a great nation is its capacity to defend itself in times of conflict or when it's sovereignty is threatened. We have been involved in armed conflicts for the the struggles for freedom on more than one occasion and front throughout our history. In World Wars I and II it was to stop the progress of forces threatening the world and the rights of friendly nations to decide their own destinies. There have been many other conflicts afterwards with other nations including the two wars Iraq and Afghanistan we are currently involved in.

And, as in every war, there are ugly and dark things that happen. Sometimes these are areas that can be addressed, and even fixed. One such area can be found in the relation between wars we are involved in and human trafficking. There are aspects of the current two wars we don't like; things we even hate. We hate that we were led into the War in Iraq on bad information – especially when there was a preponderance of information suggesting the smart thing to do would have been to wait. This, because what information we had suggesting WMD or links to Al Qaeda were weak at best.

In terms of the War in Afghanistan, we all understand the reasons for going in and it was directly a result of the attacks of 9/11 and the vast majority of Americans are fine with the logic behind waging that war. However, they aren't so happy about how it's been waged resulting in why we are still there.

One of the things we don't know is that in these war zones and in and around other US military bases today human trafficking aimed at the US service member market is big business. And despite what we may think or want to believe, it is happening in both the major theaters of war today and around US military bases in other parts of the world today.

The current form of prostitutes serving as part of a “tradition” for service members being big business in various parts of the world began roughly during the Vietnam War. The Foundation For Women's web site states, “Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia with 61 million inhabitants in which women comprise about half. Tourism was developed in the early 1980s after the fall of the old regime in Saigon in 1975 and the withdrawal of US bases in Thailand in 1976. The sex industry started to flourish as never before during the Vietnam War when Thailand was used as US base and RR (Rest and Recreation) destination for American soldiers. After American troops withdrew, sex tourism took over the existing sex-related infrastructure. Bangkok and Pattaya became sex havens of men all over the world. During the 1990s, the estimated number of women/girls engaged in sex industry was not less than 400,000.” (

There's more. “Truong’s (1990) book Sex, Money and Morality: Prostitution and Tourism in Southeast Asia looks at sexual labor as a way of producing surplus with the growth of capitalism. Examples are the services used by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War and the growth of tourism after the war. His book agrees with a point in Pettman’s (1997) article Body Politics: international sex tourism which emphasizes the complex issues buried beneath the sex tourism industry, such as economic policies, international relations, business ethics, racial discrimination, and corruption.” (

This unfortunate “tradition” continued into other wars. “During the brief Gulf War, the U.S. military prevented prostitution for its troops in Saudi Arabia, to avoid a backlash from its hosts. But on their return home, the troop ships stopped in Thailand for 'R & R.'” (

This followed us into the War in the Balkans and the legacy remains. “According to deposition testimony from (US military contractor) DynCorp employees and DynCorp e-mails made public by Johnston's (a former employee of DynCorp) lawsuit, Bosnian police started an investigation in the summer of 1999 after local news media reported that five DynCorp employees had purchased the women's passports from local Serbian mafia elements. Johnston was still relatively new at the job, and says at the time he knew nothing of that investigation. A Bosnian government representative brought the allegations to the attention of the Task Force Eagle commander (Camp Comanche is one of the bases that make up the larger Task Force Eagle). The men were accused in the Bosnian press of "harboring illegal immigrants and participating in organized crime activities to buy ownership (passports) of these aliens," according to an e-mail from Martin Ayers, then DynCorp's manager of European operations, to DynCorp vice president Chris DiGesualdo.

“According to e-mails, on Aug. 10, the (US) Army informed DynCorp of the men's names and the accusations against them, and requested they be removed from Bosnia within 48 hours. By Aug. 12, DynCorp had flown the men to a DynCorp office in Germany to be interviewed. Within a few days of arriving in Germany, the men were fired. This apparently satisfied the Army. Thanks to DynCorp's swift action, Ayers' e-mail says, 'We were able to turn this into a marketing success.'” (

In Iraq it is also happening and military contractors are involved. In fact of the hundreds of military contractors currently paid by US taxpayers for their services in current theaters of war, one corporation's name keeps popping up regarding human trafficking. “A contractor died when a DynCorp manager used an employee's armored car to transport prostitutes, according to Barry Halley, a Worldwide Network Services employee working under a DynCorp subcontract.

"DynCorp's site manager was involved in bringing prostitutes into hotels operated by DynCorp. A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission. I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by the contractor's manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.

“Let's flash back to August of 2002, and meet the DynCorp whistleblowers of yesteryear:

Two former employees of DynCorp, the government contracting powerhouse, have won legal victories after charging that the $2 billion-a-year firm fired them when they complained that co-workers were involved in a Bosnia sex-slave trade” (

And unfortunately even in Afghanistan it is happening. An “Afghanistan cable (dated June 24, 2009) discusses a meeting between Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and US assistant ambassador Joseph Mussomeli. Prime among Atmar's concerns was a party partially thrown by DynCorp for Afghan police recruits in Kunduz Province.

“Many of DynCorp's employees are ex-Green Berets and veterans of other elite units, and the company was commissioned by the US government to provide training for the Afghani police. According to most reports, over 95 percent of its $2 billion annual revenue comes from US taxpayers.

“And in Kunduz province, according to the leaked cable, that money was flowing to drug dealers and pimps. Pimps of children, to be more precise. (The exact type of drug was never specified.) The State Department has called bacha bazi a 'widespread, culturally accepted form of male rape.' (While it may be culturally accepted, it violates both Sharia law and Afghan civil code.)”
( While this does not involve our servicemen purchasing the sexual services of the child slaves from the pimps it is our contracted mercenaries facilitating the rape.

Sex trafficking happens around bases in Korea and Japan and other places as well. Children are often the victims of human trafficking as were the cases in Afghanistan and Bosnia. In so far as our legacy in Vietnam, “currently in Vietnam, children working as prostitutes earn $1,000 per month, while the average monthly wage is $25 per month. Girls are moving from their small poverty-stricken villages to cities like Hanoi and Pattaya to make more money.” (

In countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand and Vietnam the sex trafficking industry involves children sold as sexual slaves by parents that believe they can not afford to keep them. It is estimated that thousands of children were sold into bondage during the Vietnam War and sent to cities and other places popular with US servicemen for “R&R.” (Chalmers 2000) Of course those servicemen were ignorant to the fact they were having sex with children for those that unwittingly did. Still it is no less unsettling our tax dollars went to support that.

Just looking at statistics from here in the US alone, “just less than half of suspected human trafficking incidents in recent years involved the prostitution or sexual exploitation of children, according to United States Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Nearly half – 48 percent – of human trafficking allegations investigated between January 2008 and June 2010 involved allegations of adult prostitution, the Bureau said; 40 percent of cases pursued during that same time period involved children.”

In Afghanistan and Iraq we have gone as far as we can and done as much as we can. The futures of those countries are for the people of those counties to decide. Here in our own country we went through hard times as a new nation and struggled. There were popular uprisings and even a civil war. These too are things that may be unavoidable especially in countries with so many old issues as Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan has been invaded by other nations going back to the time of Alexander the Great and before. The spot where the original Garden of Eden was located is now believed to be at the intersection of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Iraq.

The history of these areas as civilizations go back before ours. They have a chance for a new start. Let's allow them to tend to it and allow us to redirect moneys being spent there essentially to protect oil companies and mining interests that don't need our money there back here. And let's stop contributing to the enslavement of children through our wars.

There may be many people due to political reasons and the upcoming 2012 elections that say we should not address this issue. They may say let's just slow down and wait. The children and adult victims of human trafficking have been there this long they can wait a little longer. In fact there may be those that say there's nothing wrong with pimping women and children saying, “it's all part of the game” and that “it's all money.” Really? You really cool with that?

Though there was a time I was ignorant to the effects of human trafficking, I'm not anymore. There are things, though I don't condone, I understand as an act of desperation to feed oneself and ones family. Human trafficking is not one of them and it needs to be addressed. As far as politics is concerned as both parties have chosen to remain silent on the issue for the most part they are both to blame equally and it cuts across party lines.

But, in the end those children of war are supported as sex slaves via our tax money. It's just one more reason we should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan today or certainly as close to it as we can. We are a great nation, let's keep as much tarnish as we can from our reputation and do all we can to just stay above that. Let's avoid Lyndon Johnson's primrose path.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

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