AFGHANISTAN: Child Sex, Bacha Bazi and DynCorp
In recent two e-mails I received from the parents of two teenage girls who were forcefully married to wealthy and powerful Tajik war criminals in Northern Afghanistan, they have painted heart-broken stories of their innocent daughters’ torture, humiliation and imprisonment by their ignorant husbands. Sajida and Rashida were barely 12 years old at the time of their marriage. The story, though interesting but ignominious. I am not going to comment it in detail as I have limited space here.
The recent sale of two more Afghan girls in separate incidents in the hands of Uzbek war criminals has sparked concern about the protection of young girls in Northern Afghanistan. Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has received hundreds complaints about the sale of teenager girls in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Jaozjan, Shiberghan, Baghlan, Samangan and Takhar provinces. In Takhar province, a nine year old girl was sold for just 240 dollars while in Baghlan, 11 years old girl was sold to a Tajik warlord for only 300 dollars.
Sex trade and male prostitution has brought disgrace and shame to Afghanistan. Sex trade and male prostitution has taken deep roots in the country after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The Persian word, Bacha Bazi means "boy play" or "boy for play." As per its conservative nature, in Afghan society, women either prostitute or professional are not allowed to perform dance among the male parties, therefore, in all parties arranged by warlords and their cronies, play boys are lured to dance all the night.
Warlords in Northern Afghanistan, according to press reports, recruit young boys for sex and dance, while local authorities remain powerless in stopping the practice. Bacha Bereesh of ages 15 to 20 are normally dressed in women cloths, dancing all the night then abused by several men.
The issue is very complicated. According to press reports, more than one hundred thousands Afghan men and women are suffering from HIV and Aids. Local warlords in Northern Afghanistan don’t even know about the fatal consequences of prostitution and sex trafficking business. There is huge increase in the number of sex workers in the country. US Department of State report (2007) has placed Afghanistan as a source, transit, for women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation In Afghanistan, Chinese and Afghan women serve both Afghans and foreigners in guest houses and brothels. Under the Afghan law, sex trade and prostitution is often considered adultery, which is punishable by five to 15 years in prison.
Recent investigative reports have revealed some facts and figures about the play boy hobbies in Pashtun majority provinces. Pashtun transport mafia is deeply involved with the business and every two in ten Pashtun truck drivers are involved in male prostitution. In Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, Bannu, Waziristan, Zabul, Quetta, Kandahar and Khost, male prostitution is not considered an illegal custom. Every young and old man, if they want can have you boy.
Recently I was told by one of my Afghan friend in London that some Afghan male prostitutes have claimed asylum in the UK due to the fear of their persecution in returning to Afghanistan. They are sexually abused, and they are even bought and sold. Fights take place over these bacha bereesh. It’s increasing day by day, and it’s catastrophic. To dress up their actions, the men involved in sex trade often insist these boys are to be dressed up in women’s clothing and dancing in front of groups of paying men. Man-boy homosexuality has flourished anew in the aftermath of Taliban zero-tolerance laws, albeit a selectively punished offence in that era. Afghan boy are mostly turn to sex work and a life on the streets because they were fleeing something worse at home.
In the past, Brothels were openly allowed in the street of Kabul and they openly enjoyed this business. Islam doesn’t allow such a practice and count it as one of the most sinful acts. Afghan Ulema are of the opinion that making boys dance and sexually abuse is not allowed in Islam. Afghan police officers are deeply involved in male prostitution while Interior Ministry in Kabul has recently received thousands complaints from locals regarding the police sexual attacks on young boys.
An intelligence website, Wikileaks recently released a cable from Afghanistan revealing U.S. government contractor DynCorp involvement in boy play business. DynCorp is a company of private militia training Afghan police force. According to recent reports, more than ninety five percent budget of the militia comes from the US and part of that is being spent on child abuse parties and sex trafficking in Northern Afghanistan.
To meet the sexual needs of the Afghan police officers, in December 2010, as Wiki Leak Cable reported DynCorp purchased young boys for Afghan policemen. The boys were to be used in Bacha bazi. DynCorp members and officers have already been engaged in sex with 12 to 15 year old children, and sold them to each other as slaves in Bosnia. After the WikiLeak revelations about the DynCorp involvement in sex trade in Northern Afghanistan, Afghan Interior Ministry carried out a thorough investigation against the private militia company.
The investigation resulted in the arrest of two Afghan police and nine other Afghans for the crime of "purchasing a service from a child." The US State Department began its own investigation whether DynCorp had ignored signs of drug abuse among employees in Afghanistan or not, but Inspector General of the State Department in its report concluded that dancing boy incident is no criminal activity in Afghanistan.
This shameless practice has also prompted Defence Department of the United States to hire a social scientist, Anna Maria toinvestigate the problem, as several US soldiers on patrol often passed older men walking hand-in-hand with pretty young boys.There are thousands young boys undergone ordeals. But actual numbers of these vulnerable boys are not known.
The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.
About the Author: The Writer is author of Afghanistan Beyond 2014 and Punjabi Taliban; he can be reached at, email@example.com.