You’re correct, Fahim. In all honesty, I witnessed the practice more by the local villagers and Afghan Militia Forces and soldiers than I ever did from Taliban and Al-qaeda. I just didn’t want to get into more of the specifics of it as a practice within the culture and detract from the piece itself.

One of the most vivid memories I still have to this day is when I went to “party” the Afghan Militia Forces had. Everyone is the room was completely wacked out of their minds smoking hash, and they kept throwing money in the air (to which I remember a greedy looking man constantly scampering across the floor to collect the funds). I found it odd they had such a young girl dancing since even the American soldiers were instructed not to look upon their women. My interpreter (who was also screwed up on hash) politely let me know it was a young boy and someone would have the pleasure of having him for the evening. I left sick and confused. We reported it to our commanders all the time, but were told that was their culture and to not intervene.

When I came home from my deployment in 2004, I told everyone how this was going on in Afghanistan. No one believed me. They couldn’t believe we’d turn a blind eye. Some questioned if I was just confused about it being a little girl. But there were numerous occasions we saw and heard of. I’m still very much disappointed in the military’s response to how they buried it.

Storyteller | Combat wounded veteran | Metalhead | Designer | Bleeding on a page just makes it more authentic: https://benjaminsledge.com

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