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KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government said it has "undertaken serious measures" to prevent "abominable" child sexual abuse following a report alleging the practice was rife among the country's armed forces and militias.
The New York Times reported that U.S. personnel stationed in the country had been instructed by their superiors not to intervene in sexual abuse of boys by Afghan police and militia chiefs. The paper said the practice of abusing young boys — known as "bacha bazi," which translates as "boy play" — has long been a problem in the country, particularly among the security forces.
The Afghan presidential palace said in a statement Wednesday that the government had "undertaken serious measures to enforce the law and prevent this iniquitous, inhuman and irreligious act."
It said it would "not hesitate to take measures to prevent this abominable phenomenon."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a teleconference with all of the country's security forces to make clear that such abuse was "one of the severest crimes and violations of human rights," according to the statement.
He also directed Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Interior Affairs, and Office of the Attorney General to form a committee to investigate and monitor the claims, the statement added.
"Afghanistan is committed to [the] protection and safeguarding of the rights of all its citizens, especially children and women," the statement said, adding that child abuse — especially within the ranks of the security forces — was "intolerable."
The Times story cited several interviews with former soldiers, family members, and court documents.