Follow-up: Sex and Security
A few weeks back I mentioned a new MICROCON report on peacekeeping and local sex industries. Today’s Asia Times carries a related story on the use of brothels by private security contractors in Kabul.
A report by the Washington, DC, Project on Government Oversight recently released publicly tells of the wild naked antics of members of ArmorGroup (AG), which has a United States State Department contract to provide security for the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Hardly mentioned is the use of local bordellos by some contractors. It took a lawsuit filed on September 9 by James Gordon, a former ArmorGroup director of operations, and subsequent whistleblower, against ArmorGroup North America and associated defendants – ArmorGroup International (AGI), Wackenhut Services Inc (WSI), and various management individuals – to bring details to light. Among other things he charges that AG:
* Allowed AGNA managers and employees to frequent brothels notorious for housing trafficked women in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and shutting down the plaintiff’s efforts to investigate and put a stop to these violations.
* Deliberately withholding documents relating to violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act allegedly committed by AGNA’s program manager and other AGNA employees when responding to a document demand from US Congressman Henry Waxman on behalf of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The article also recounts failed investigations into allegations that DynCorp employees participated in trafficking-related activities in Bosnia, starting ten years ago with reports that “five male DynCorp employees had purchased female prostitutes from a Serbian organized crime outfit.”
The details in the article should prove interesting to anyone looking at the in-theatre behaviour of private security contractors and the lengths to which corporate entities will go to protect their reputations and revenue streams. The author, David Isenberg from PRIO, also has a forthcoming study on these issues.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about corruption as a strategic problem in Afghanistan. I don’t think most people think of brothels and sex trafficking when they think about corruption in this context, but to the extent that such behaviour by foreign forces (private or not) contributes to local perceptions of foreigners as corrupt or illegitimate, perhaps it should be part of the conversation.