2013-09-22 17:28:38 - The homosexual rape culture of boys in Afghan society that dares not speak its name
NANGAHAR, (IRIN) - Sexual exploitation of boys, in particular the practice of "bacha bazi" (literally boy play) in which boys are "owned" for dancing and sex, remains one of the least talked about abuses in Afghanistan.
It is an age-old custom, banned by the Taliban when they were in power, but now undergoing a resurgence.
"Before, bacha bazi was in some special areas, but now it is everywhere. It is happening in Takhar [province] and the rest of the north," the child rights commissioner at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Suraya Subhrang, told IRIN.
"When you don't have a strong central government or rule of law, and the culture of impunity exists and laws are not implemented, many things happen."
of warlords, wealthy merchants and illegal armed groups supports demand, while poverty and the sheer number of displaced children drives the supply of exploitable boys. They are released when they are aged around 18, but their future is often bleak.
They are usually enticed or abducted when they are still children and held as property by an "owner".
Many "owners" vehemently deny they sexually abuse the boys, but after a bacha performance, the boys can end the evening being abused by a group of men.
A former commander in the Northern Alliance, opposed to the then Taliban government, who did not wish to be identified, told IRIN he had kept a 14-year-old bacha for two years. He had not given the boy a salary but paid all of his expenses, which amounted to US$300-400 a month. "There are two types of boys: those who can dance well and are kept for entertainment, and those who can't and are kept only for sexual purposes. I kept my boy for sex," he said.
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