We wasted blood and treasure on these scum?
Dancing into dangerous territory as forbidden practice thrives again
April 7, 2012
The practice of wealthy Afghans exploiting boys as sexual partners, often dressing them up as women, is on the rise, writes Ernesto Londono in Dehrazi.
The nine-year-old boy with pale skin and big, piercing eyes captivated Mirzahan at first sight. ”He is more handsome than anyone in the village,” the 22-year-old farmer said, explaining why he is grooming the boy as a sexual partner and companion.
There was another important factor that made Waheed easy to take on as a bacha bazi, or a boy for pleasure: ”He doesn’t have a father, so there is no one to stop this.”
A growing number of Afghan children are being coerced into a life of sexual abuse. The practice of wealthy or prominent Afghans exploiting under-age boys as sexual partners who are often dressed up as women to dance at gatherings is on the rise in post-Taliban Afghanistan, according to Afghan human rights researchers, Western officials and men who take part in the abuse.
”Like it or not, there was better rule of law under the Taliban,” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child protection expert at the UN mission in Afghanistan, who has sought to persuade the government to address the problem. ”They saw it as a sin, and they stopped a lot of it.”
Over the past decade, the phenomenon has flourished in Pashtun areas in the south, in several northern provinces and even in the capital, according to Afghans who engage in the practice or have studied it. Although issues such as women’s rights and moral crimes have attracted a flood of donor aid and activism in recent years, bacha bazi remains poorly understood…
Afghan men have exploited boys as sexual partners for generations, people who have studied the issue say. The practice became rampant during the 1980s, when mujahideen commanders fighting Soviet forces became notorious for recruiting boys while passing through villages. In Kandahar during the mid-1990s, the Taliban was born in part out of public anger that commanders had married bachas and were engaging in other morally licentious behaviour.
Afghanistan’s legal codes are based mainly on sharia, or Islamic law, which strictly prohibits sodomy. The law also bars sex before marriage. Under Afghan law, men must be at least 18 years old and women 16 to marry.
During the Taliban era, men suspected of having sex with men or boys were executed. In the late 1990s, amid the group’s repressive reign, the practice of bacha bazi went underground. The fall of the Taliban government in late 2001 and the flood of donor money that poured into Afghanistan revived the phenomenon.