Murphy's Law: Making Child Abuse Pay


February 18, 2014: Although the Afghan government was persuaded to pass new laws protecting the welfare of women and children, these new laws are not being enforced. This is known not from police reports, because the police don’t report receiving many complaints of abuse against women (especially wives) or children. More of these abuse incidents are showing up in clinics run by foreign medical staffs, who do keep track of these injuries. Afghan medical workers will also record patient injuries, but will not comment on the cause (angry men). Most Afghans, when pressed, will attribute the injuries of women and children to accidents or carelessness. Some will simply shrug and look at you like you are a stupid, ignorant and troublesome foreigner.

Afghans have been aware of these cultural differences regarding what forms of punishments are permissible against women and children in the West. Most Afghans tend to tolerate these brutal customs. Indeed, many Afghans found ways to make the Americans pay compensation for injuries Afghans had inflicted on women and children. This was discovered over the last decade when civilians were caught injuring their own children to gain more cash compensation for injuries they could claim were caused by NATO troops. Sometimes the scam was obvious to medical professionals. The burns found on children were often the result of a common form of punishment in rural Afghanistan; putting the hand of an unruly child in boiling water. Foreign medical teams often encounter this kind of injury, and other types of savage punishments, and sometimes the parents casually admitted the cause. It was, after all, part of the culture. Wounds from bombs, including burns, are distinctive and it took a while for the Afghans to catch onto that. But for a while many parents did get compensation for injuries they, not NATO bombs, had inflicted on their children.