This is what we’re defending or supporting?
Posted April 11, 2012on:
The youth above is dancing for a group of adult men in Afghanistan. They are known as bacha bazi or “a boy for pleasure”.
From a WaPo article:
The 9-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.”
Disgusting right? Except, it is a practice that’s been going on in Afghanistan for generations (possibly longer? who knows). I suppose in the “classic” sense it might be called pederasty but I see it as child abuse or exploitation. It’s something that is on the rise in Afghanistan. “The practice of wealthy or prominent Afghans exploiting underage 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 participate in the abuse.”
The State Department has mentioned the issue in a 2010 Human Rights report on Afghanistan, but little has been done to stop it. (I in no way am blaming our S.O.S.; we know about her work with children)
UNAMA reported that progovernment militias, including the ANSF (which receives training and weapons from the U.S.-led coalition), recruited underage boys and sometimes sexually abused them in an environment of criminal impunity. Reports verified that some recruitment campaigns took place on school compounds. The AIHRC also stated that it received reports of child recruitment by progovernment militias in some provinces.
Ironically under the Taliban the practice was forbidden and the Taliban usually killed men who engaged in this.
“Like it or not, there was better rule of law under the Taliban,” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child-protection expert at the U.N. 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.”
A Washington Post writer was able to meet with a number of Afghan men who have or had “dancing boys” and they discussed it with the writer. Some of their “justifications” may make you ill and some go back to their Neanderthal ideas about women and their societal norms. The men agreed to the meeting in a mud hut in a small village and insisted that only their first names be used. Is it possible they were embarrassed or possibly afraid? I don’t know.
Mirzahan, the twenty-two year old farmer quoted at the top of this post said he “opted to take on the boy because marrying a woman would have been prohibitively expensive.” Oh excuse me? You already treat women like shit in your society, so how is keeping a young boy cheaper? Mirzahan says the two have not had sex yet,but that will happen in a few years. For now, Waheed is being introduced to slightly older “dancing boys.” Well isn’t that just ducky and I guess it’s a small blessing for Waheed…at least for now. Waheed was asked how he felt about becoming a dancing boy:
“I feel so happy,” the boy said. “They are so beautiful.”
Then there is the Afghan soldier who is stationed in the province of Kanhadar:
Assadula said he has been attracted to teenage males for as long as he can recall. Two years ago, he took on a 16-year-old as his bacha. The relationship will end soon, he said, sitting next to his companion, Jawad, who is now 18.
“When he starts growing a beard, his time will expire, and I will try to find another one who doesn’t have a beard,” Assadula said.
Many of the men who have bachas are also married. But Assadula said he has never been attracted to women.
Assadula: If you were in the West I might say you were possibly gay, but, uh, we gay folk don’t abuse children (contrary to the belief of some).
Did you notice in Assadula’s statements he says: “When he starts growing a beard, his time will expire, and I will try to find another one…” I suppose that’s because they don’t want the to ruin the image of femininity or else they’re afraid the boys will get big enough to beat the shit out of them or kill them.
And I loved this “rationalization” by Assadula: If it weren’t so pathetic I would have been laughing my butt off:
“You cannot take wives everywhere with you,” he said, referring to the gender segregation in social settings that is traditional in Afghanistan. “You cannot take a wife with you to a party, but a boy you can take anywhere.”
Well I guess that makes it okay.
You may have asked: What happens when the boys develop a beard? Simply, they are cast off, turned out or what-have-you. Many end up becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Barat Ali Batoor documented the dancing boys in a photo spread.
When the boys age beyond their prime and get tossed aside, many become pimps or prostitutes, said Afghan photojournalist Barat Ali Batoor, who spent months chronicling the plight of dancing boys. Some turn to drugs or alcohol, he said.
“In Afghan society, if you are raped or you are abused, you will not have space in society to live proudly,” he said.
When Batoor finished the project he thought officials would want to bring the issue to light but he found that the NGOs didn’t even want it discussed, “They said: ‘We don’t want to make enemies in Afghanistan,’ ”.
Wurth, the U.N. official mentioned above said the lack of progress on combating the sexual exploitation of children is her biggest regret. And “Foreign powers have done little to conduct thorough research or advocate for policy reforms.”
Wurth said she is somewhat encouraged by talks with some of the Afghan government officials who said they were concerned about the popularity of the practice. However, they haven’t done much to discourage it nor is she aware of any prosecutions of anyone. She said:
“A kid who is being sexually exploited, if he reports it, he will end up in prison,” she said. “They become pariahs.”
I’ll leave you with an end-note from Ernesto Londoño the Washington Post writer as he was leaving his interview with Mirzahan and Assadula:
As I got up to leave, Mirzahan and Assadula said they had one question for me.
“Are you Muslim?” one asked. I told them I am not. They asked me to convert then and there.
Baffled, I told them I would think about it, and walked out.
I don’t know about you, but I’m just sick and tired of the U.S. being there. Tired of the bloodshed, injured and killed service folks and the like. Tired of the money we are pissing away on this debacle. Yes, I know there’s supposed to be a shit-load of minerals there, including, gasp!, “rare-earth” minerals, but that’s not enough reason for us to stay.
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