To quote so many of my friends, “what would we do without the United Nations?” Is that “what would we do” or “who would we do?”
United Nations peacekeepers in Ivory Coast enticed underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation to exchange sex for food, according to a United States Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.
The cable written in January 2010 focuses on the behavior of Beninese peacekeepers stationed in the western town of Toulepleu, an area that has been at the crosshairs of the nation’s 10-year-long conflict.
A random poll of 10 underage girls in Toulepleu by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure their most basic needs. “Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” the diplomat wrote in the cable, citing information shared with the embassy by a protection officer.
On Tuesday, United Nations spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux confirmed that in April, 16 Beninese peacekeepers were repatriated to Benin and are barred from serving in the U.N. following a yearlong investigation.
Eight out of 10 underage girls serviced UN piecekeepers—sorry, peacekeepers? That’s like… uh…80%! The other two must have been really ugly.
Sorry, but UN vice weakens my resistance to crude humor. Anyhow, it’s not exactly an isolated incident:
Sexual misconduct by U.N. troops has been reported in a number of countries including Congo, Cambodia and Haiti — as well as in an earlier incident involving Moroccan peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.
In 2007, a 730-strong battalion of peacekeepers from Morocco was asked to suspend its activities in the northern Ivorian city of Bouake after the U.N. received allegations of sexual misconduct involving local girls.
A report published a year later by Save the Children U.K. identified Ivory Coast as one of the places where sexual barter between peacekeepers and girls was occurring. The peacekeepers traded food as well as mobile phones for sex, the report said.
The recently released cable identifies for the first time the Benin peacekeeping contingent.
It also makes clear that the sexual exploitation continued through at least the last month of 2009, quoting a protection officer with Save the Children who spoke to the embassy in January 2010. The officer said that the “sexual exploitation and abuse problem among (United Nations) personnel is more extensive than is recognized.”
Not here, it isn’t. Bloodthirstan has recognized the UN’s sexual exploitation for years.
I wonder if there isn’t a basic problem with the whole model. If you send one group of people to patrol another group, they may not recognize them as equals, as full human beings. But then I looked at a map of Africa:
Benin is in the same friggin’ neighborhood! If they’re not going to recognize Ivorian girls as, you know, girls, then who will they?
I actually see an even more basic problem, one that at least explains UN peacekeeper behavior, if not excuses it.
Soldiers rape. Well, some do. They always have, and likely always will. Maybe the better-trained ones rape less (fewer?), and certainly the better-trained forces punish the rapists more severely. As far as I can tell, the UN forces who diddle young girls are sent home—no more Ivorian tail for you, young man. In America, we send our soldier-rapists to Leavenworth. Which one is a greater deterrent?
As an aside, I wonder when Brian DePalma will be making his next film on the subject? Redacted, which was based on a real-life gruesome atrocities by American GIs, inspired a Kosovo Muslim to shoot up a bus of other American GIs, who were in Kosovo presumably to protect Muslims, killing two. Imagine the greater impact of seeing UN peacekeepers, in their impressive powder-blue berets, getting up to all kinds of naughtiness with the American Girl set? Oh, to be a part of that casting agency!
So, let’s cut the UN some slack (if that’s not an unfortunate choice of words). Their peacekeepers are only doing what occupiers have always done: sampled the local flora and fauna.
The girls’ parents understand how it works:
Parents were encouraging their daughters to sleep with the peacekeepers so they would provide for them, according to the cable.
See? Everybody was getting something.
PS: For those who take this more seriously, you can watch a video of four Uruguayan UN peacekeepers sexually assaulting a Hatian man here. I’ll pass.