The filthy culture of bacha bazi in Afghanistan

Published: September 21, 2015

The Afghans call this revolting act bacha bazi, and it is exactly what it sounds like. PHOTO: WASHINGTON POST/WIKILEAKS

The Afghans call this revolting act bacha bazi, and it is exactly what it sounds like.

The Afghans call this revolting act bacha bazi, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Young boys usually ostracised from villages by their families because they were attacked by a paedophile, wearing flowing colourful outfits clad in bells, dancing in seedy places for older turban wearing bearded Afghan men, only to be sexually assaulted after the contemptible night takes a drug and alcohol fuelled turn.

The Guardian stated,

“Dressed in a flowing shirt and long, red skirt, with sherwal pants beneath and small silver bells fastened to hands and feet, the dancer stepped across the floor, face hidden behind a red scarf. The bells chimed with the movement, the skirt brushing past the watching men who stretched out their hands to touch it. The sitar player sang loudly, a love song about betrayal. The dancer twisted and sang hoarsely with him, arms thrown high above a lean, muscular body, moving faster and faster until finally the scarf dropped, revealing a handsome young man’s face with traces of a moustache and beard. One of the men quickly grabbed the scarf and started sniffing it.

In an adjacent room, 16-year-old Mustafa was preparing to dance next. His owner opened a small bundle of clothes and produced a long, blue skirt, crimson shirt, leather straps and bells. Mustafa stood on a table and nervously smoked a cigarette. Holding his thin arms over his head, he allowed two bearded, turbaned men, giggling and laughing, to dress him like a doll. One combed his long hair, and invited the other to have the “honour” of wrapping the straps around his hands and feet.”

Bacha bazi is an old central Asian tradition, with roots buried deep in local culture. It has been documented in the award winning film The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan featuring journalist Najibullah Quraishi. The film shares accounts of Afghani boys who have been subjected to sexual slavery.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stated,

“I go to every province to have happiness and pleasure with boys, says an Afghan man known as ‘The German,’ who acts as a bacha bazi pimp, supplying boys to the men. Some boys are not good for dancing, and they will be used for other purposes. … I mean for sodomy and other sexual activities.”

It was also depicted in Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner, where a boy is sold as a sexual slave to a member of the Taliban. But Khaled Hosseini had it wrong. Heinous as the Taliban’s cruel government had been, they actually abhorred child sex abuse. The militant group despised the act of bacha bazi, executing any Afghan found to have abused young boys.

The Washington Post stated,

“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.”

Now, with the Taliban gone, bacha bazi is once again flourishing in Afghanistan, from remote villages to teeming cities such as Kabul.

The Guardian,

“Under Taliban rule, it was banned, but it has crept back and is now widespread, flourishing also in the cities, including the capital, Kabul, and a common feature of weddings, especially in the north. The bacha dancers are often abused children whose families have rejected them. Their ‘owners’ or ‘masters’ can be single or married men, who keep them in a form of sexual slavery, as concubines.”

For some, owning a bacha as a sex slave is a status symbol. Those who can’t afford it, buy CDs and DVDs of bacha bazi from the market. Others in the Kabul chai (tea) houses watch videos of dancing bachas.

The BBC explains how the bachas are powerless to save themselves.

“I started dancing at wedding parties when I was 10, when my father died,” says Omid.

We were hungry, I had no choice. Sometimes we go to bed on empty stomachs. When I dance at parties I earn about $2 or some pulau rice.

I ask him what happens when people take him to hotels. He bows his head and pauses for a long time before answering.

Omid says he is paid about $2 for the night. Sometimes he is gang raped.

I ask him why he doesn’t go to the police for help.

They are powerful and rich men. The police can’t do anything against them.”

Afghanistan’s allies are turning a blind eye, sweeping it under the rug in the name of cultural tradition.

In an eye opening article, The New York Times reveals how American soldiers are ordered to ignore the screaming cries of young boys being sexually abused by their Afghan allies. According to the report, they are told to turn a deaf ear to this aspect of Afghan ‘culture’.

It seems hypocritical of the United States to allow its allies to take part in crimes against humanity to maintain political stability. The stories are foul enough to churn your stomach.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” one soldier told his father in a painful phone call.

Naturally, many marines were unable to contain their fury and attacked these Afghan officers. Later, they were reprimanded by their own government for intervening in local culture.

The New York Times,

“The American policy of non-intervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban. It also reflects a reluctance to impose cultural values in a country where pederasty is rife, particularly among powerful men, for whom being surrounded by young teenagers can be a mark of social status.

Some soldiers believed that the policy made sense; even if they were personally distressed at the sexual predation they witnessed or heard about.

‘The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban,’ a former Marine lance corporal reflected. ‘It wasn’t to stop molestation.’

Still, the former lance corporal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending fellow marines, recalled feeling sickened the day he entered a room on a base and saw three or four men lying on the floor with children between them.”

This American policy has only isolated many village elders who are frustrated by the acts of depravity. American backed Afghans in powerful military positions to this day are said to own multiple sex slaves, and have been accused of crimes of rape and worse. The solution, of course, is not to invite monsters such as Taliban back into power, but to find a way to fill this vacuum in justice.

Unfortunately, those who take part in bacha bazi see nothing wrong with it.

The New York Times,

“So Captain Quinn summoned Abdul Rahman and confronted him about what he had done. The police commander acknowledged that it was true, but brushed it off. When the American officer began to lecture about ‘how you are held to a higher standard if you are working with US forces, and people expect more of you,’ the commander began to laugh.”


“What was so unnerving about the men I had met was not just their lack of concern for the damage their abuse was doing to the boys, Quraishi says. It was also their casualness with which they operated and the pride with which they showed me their boys, their friends, their world. They clearly believed that nothing they were doing was wrong.”


“Some people like dog fighting, some practice cockfighting. Everyone has their hobby, for me, it’s bacha bazi, he says.

When we leave the party at two in the morning a teenage boy is still dancing and offering drugs to the men around him.

Zabi is not especially wealthy or powerful, yet he has three bachas. There are many people who support this tradition across Afghanistan and many of them are very influential.”

To avoid any feelings of guilt, Foreign Policy explains, the Pakhtuns have twisted religious teachings,

“The fact that bacha bazi, which has normalised sodomy and child abuse in rural Afghan society, developed within a deeply fundamentalist Islamic region of the world is mystifying. According to a 2009 Human Terrain Team study titled ‘Pashtun Sexuality,’ Pakhtun social norms dictate that bacha bazi is not un-Islamic or homosexual at all — if the man does not love the boy, the sexual act is not reprehensible, and is far more ethical than defiling a woman.

Sheltered by their pastoral setting and unable to speak Arabic — the language of all Islamic texts — many Afghans allow social customs to trump religious values, including those Quranic verses eschewing homosexuality and promiscuity. Warlords who have exploited Islam for political or personal means have also promulgated tolerance for bacha bazi. The mujahideen commanders are a perfect example of this — they fought communism in the name of jihad and mobilised thousands of men by promoting Islam, while sexually abusing boys and remaining relatively secular themselves.”

This tendency knows no borders. As we learned from the tragedy in Kasur, child sex abuse is a widespread problem in Pakistan, but the incidents are especially rampant in Pakistan’s northern areas.

Pakistan’s Hidden Shame, a documentary directed by Mohammed Naqvi and produced by Jamie Doran, is an eye opener. The documentary is difficult to watch, even in small doses. It tells deeply distressing stories from Peshawar of vulnerable children, trying to ease the pain of their lives by using narcotics, or resorting to self-harm by cutting themselves, who either sell themselves to older men, or are raped and gang-raped.

Naeem, a 13-year-old boy, was attacked while resting on the streets,

“I was lying here sleeping and four people grabbed me and threw me into a car, he sobs. One was a bus driver, the others were heroin addicts. All four of them raped me.”

One of the most horrifying tales is of Ijaz.

The Daily Mail,

“Once, there was a boy on the bus and everyone had sex with him, confesses Ijaz who admits to raping 12 different children during his career as a bus conductor.

I did it too but what else could I do? They invited me. And he was that kind of boy anyway.”

From Afghanistan to Pakistan, the common threads in these cases are as old as the act of rape itself. Invariably, the victims are heartbreakingly vulnerable, and invariably, the attackers themselves rationalise their actions by blaming the victim, ‘he was asking for it’, ‘he secretly liked it’, or ‘he was that type of boy’.

More upsettingly, accepting it as a cultural norm allows the abusers as well as those with the power to stop it, to alleviate feelings of guilt.

Foreign Policy claims that as many as 50 per cent of men in Southern Afghanistan ‘take boy lovers’. The leaders of Afghanistan do nothing for fear of losing their hold on power, as any action could offend their voter base. Meanwhile, as far as Pakistan’s northern areas are concerned, our own leaders would rather bury their heads in the sand.

This mentality can only be tackled with a concerted effort to revise a cultural norm. Somewhere along the way these people began to assume it was okay to take advantage of a child. For such a perverse act to become acceptable in parts of Pakhtun culture must have taken deep psychological conditioning, especially considering how many victims of sexual abuse become abusers themselves. It shall take equally complex psychological conditioning to invalidate child sex abuse as an acceptable act.

We can only achieve this if our political and religious leaders, filmmakers, educators, journalists, and others use their skills of influence. Shame can be a healthy feeling, but not when it is misused to function as a wall for paedophiles and rapists to cover their wrongdoings. Shame must instead be used as a hammer to break down these walls.

Writer’s note: This article is specifically about bacha bazi. 

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • AA

    What a shame for a muslim country….Recommend

  • zoro

    No comments ??? :-)Recommend

  • Justin Flontek

    Soldiers who do nothing, while pedophiles ae allowed to un rampant, are no better than the pedophiles. Simply speaking out is not enough. If they don’t defended the innocent and defenseless, against such monsters, they shouldn’t even be allowed to return home. Leave them in Afghanistan, to rot with the rest of the scum.Recommend

  • Animal Farm

    Its really strange that a culture which thinks 2 consenting adult males having sex with each other as immoral but have no problems with an adult male forcing a child to do the same…Recommend

  • Grace

    Bache Bazi is a part of Afghan culture but it is not part of Pakistani culture. Yes the Kasur incident exposed an instance of pedophilia but it is in no way common place or accepted in Pakistan. If anything, the sexual abuse of children is found revolting and people were demanding the death sentence for those involved in such disturbing acts in Kasur. In Afghanistan, there is no such public horror over sexual abuse of children since this has long been a regular practice there. Although child abuse goes on along with child porn in Europe, North America, other Western countries etc, nowhere in the world is it an accepted part of local custom as in Afghanistan. This has to change.Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    A child of 7 years old was raped in my neighbor and rapists got free by saying that he seduced themRecommend

  • Ramla al’Aalam

    What a bloody twist you are putting on the matter of American non-intervention — making it sound as though they are letting children be abused because their objectives are more important to them.

    What would you rather than Americans do? Poke into the matter? Is it America’s fault that this is a given practice in a place where they have arrived? How much will American fix on behalf of and for Afghans? What is the American mandate?

    Don’t put a spin on this in such a manner! Stop being abhorable. If you care so much, you live just a short flight away from Kabul. Intervene! BismAllah!Recommend

  • Hamiz Mughal

    Hahaha In the original New York time article there is no mention of Pakistan. But in this(the Pakistani version) there is… Recommend

  • Khorasani

    I’m Tajik from “Afghanistan” and i would like to say that this is only prevalent in Pashtuns but Tajiks,Uzbeks,Hazaras and other civilized communities of “Afghanistan” do not engage in such vile activities, only Pashtuns.

    Thank goodnessRecommend

  • Humza

    Bache Bazi is a disturbing part of the culture of Afghanistan is one of the reasons why Western people have such a negative impression of that land. I feel so sorry about the children who cannot protect themselves from these old men who should know better. When I was in the US, I wondered why the Americans called the people Assghanis and I found it unfair but I understand now after this article.Recommend

  • Molly Lee

    What’s wrong with these pedophiles – either they have to be warlords and continue to practice of raping children or they become Taliban butchers where they simply kill boys and their families. Why can’t they just act like civilized people.Recommend

  • Salman Shareef

    Hello Writer, Please shed some light on Gay-Bazi in elite class of Pakistan.Recommend

  • vivek

    This is not central asian but pure Arab oriented one which brought by invaders to satisfy their blood and sex thirsty solders.If it’s really central asian it would have recorded in old asian manuscripts .Recommend

  • aaliya briggs

    So heartbreaking. As a mother of a beautiful son, my heart aches for these poor innocent children. Keep writing Noman. Your voice is definitely being heard.Recommend

  • shahid

    Writer…plz also throw some light on the passive gays in pakistan especially in the army, in cadet colleges, PMA and upper middle class Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Your comments are not welcome because rate of these crimes are quite higher in your countries rather then any asian.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Freed by law or by the relatives of the victim, this must be clarified.Recommend

  • Afghan Jalebi

    Yeah right, like it doesn’t happen in Pakistan!Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Fully agree.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    even in these countries if 2 people under 18 do whatever they want in the name of sex, their law and their parents can do nothing but sigh.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    What two consenting adults do is none of our business.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Why? The personal life of consenting adults do is none of our business.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    For the record , many don’t see it as bad. Since its going on since eons and many ( to this day ) don’t have access to edu /awareness / info / knowledge .. they don’t see it as wrong doing. They feel they are simply carrying their legacy forward.Recommend

  • MachoMan

    Fully disagree with the bacha bazi is only part of Afghanistan, It happens in Pakistan too. See some google statistics,, . This clearly shows what interests we have… In KPK it happens openly.. But in Islamabad if you do survey you will find 80 Percent Pakhtun Male maids age between 14-30 will be working inside homes, No female maid or old age male maid is preffered,,, Reason because young can do lots of things which they both cant….!!Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Errr.. in the first case there is no force involved .Recommend

  • Sane

    Unless we do not adhere to Shariah and follow what ALLAH says in Holy Qur’an, such beast and inhuman acts shall be unchecked and rampant.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    As I mentioned, child molestation is an issue in Pakistan as well. It may not have a label of ‘bacha bazi’ but it is a problem.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Kudos to the author, for consistently throwing light on disgusting, abhorrent, regressive practices as these.. I read sometime back that these practices and gay sex is more prevalent in Saudi Arabia as well.. Hormone laden teenagers on the verge of discovering their sexuality, with no outlets (all ladies being locked up) turn gay..Recommend

  • raj

    Its strange that you heard of that thing from CII but never read that there is now such law in the constitution. Please read huddod ordinance. try to update yourself man before writing. ok.. better luck next timeRecommend

  • Parvez

    Thinking aloud…….feel this practice of ‘ bacha bazi ‘ is more prevalent in those cultures where women are highly suppressed……..emancipate the woman, free her from social, political and legal restraints and this will change things.Recommend

  • Ivar the Driver

    Any culture which accepts heinous crimes like baccha bazi as its part is doomed beyond any redemption. I think its high time for authorities of the nations wherever such evils exist to crack their whip on such crimes. I think a mass level social awareness programs backed by a strict penal laws would go a long way.Recommend

  • Naam- e – Shuma Chee Ast

    Afghans = Child EaglesRecommend

  • Hazara Pride

    According to survey, 1/3rd of Afghans believe child molestation is acceptable part of growing up! Disgusting! Incestous molestation is even more common there.

    If you don’t call this savagery then what is it?!Recommend

  • Mahmudzai

    Us Afghans are also related to Arabs.

    Rumi was a non-religious but engaged in pederasty, so did many great Afghan and Persian emperors; it is part of our Persian culture.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Err.. we need to educate them about the ills /
    . Many do it out of innocence / ignorance .Recommend

  • Smith Sons

    Forget about articles, have you ever been in KP or northern areas? have the auther ever been in northern areas or looked into our culture?

    how can you say that its openly done in KP and other areas. What a shame it is that you people just tarnish image of area without evening knowing it fully.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Mahmood

    Sad and also ironic that bacha bazi , a heinous crime, is acceptable but homosexuality or being gay is totally unacceptable in these societies. More ironic is that they dont think bacha bazi is homosexuality as long as the rapist/oppressor is not in love with the raped/oppressed boy. Pathetic.Recommend

  • Atomicbear

    This isn’t about consenting adults… this is about child rape.Recommend

  • Zardad khan

    It happens in all societies and cultures. In the western world it become institutionaliased in the church where those in authority were complicit in the abuse of alter boys. Over the last few yrs the UK has gone through a huge scandal of sexual abuse against girls. The more socialnswrvices investigate the more cases are found. Police officers, politicians, media personalities are all complicit in this abuse. Women being trafficked from eastern europe and the far east are forced into becoming sex slaves after being promised work. The abuse of boys in the so called islamic republics of pakistan and Afghanistan is sickening to the core. In both nations there is little islam to be found in society. Yet the Muslim world wants to mimic western societies to gain more freedoms to satisfy lustful pleasures that are part and parcel of western societies. Does the writer really feel that the USA or the UK hold any moral or ethical values to combat these awful crimes. Only the Islamic system with its sharia in every aspect of life can solve issue such as this. Until this islamic system is applied then we can carrying on dreaming that anything in Pakistan or Afghanistan will change. The writer asks those in authority to combat this crime does he not understand that they as corrupt as those who carry out Bacha bazi. I urge those in Pakistan not to follow western culture as the solution can be found write under our nose in the quran and sunnah which was pratically implemented for over one thousand years creating a society where the young and the old, women and girls, the disabledisable and poor, muslim and non Muslims were secure in their lives and property. Do we as muslims really feel that insaan (left to his own divises, free to break islamic injunctions from allah and his beloved messenger) is the best judge of creating law and order to produce a harmmonious society. I would rather leave the laws of allah and his messenger as the ones that should be implemented. Not those of man with his limited mind who will Bend laws in to siut his tastes and desires.Recommend

  • Zardad khan

    Why are people in the Muslim world smitten by the west and it’s culture.I have been living in the UK for thirtyfive yrs. Believe me every kind of hedonistic act takes place in all western countries. Islam with its social, economic, dudicial, punishment and educational systems can resolve all the issues that the Muslim world faces. There are no moral or ethical values to be found in western society culture or history. Recommend

  • Animal Farm

    Yup,but you miss the point..Its the consent…A child who doesnt know that his waste organs have other uses too will not sleep with a grown man…So we are basically forcing them to do what they dont want to do..

    whereas in case of these horny under 18 teens,they know what they do and they do it out of their own consent….Recommend

  • Animal Farm

    Yup thats what I’m emphasizing,,,,They are horrified that 2 adults do consensually but prefer to remain silent when a older man forces a child to doRecommend

  • Sonia K

    Gayism in its many forms……. bacha bazi, fomally legalized gay marriages or closet gayism, same-sex rapes….. its all over the world…. the post-script was the most essential part and a very informative article! Kudos!Recommend

  • Copper Chimney

    Saudi Arabia follows Shariah, and they are killing a 21 year old by crucifixion simply for opposing the government. How has Holy Quran preached any humanity to them ?
    Whats missing in world is understanding of basic morals, not religion. All big ills in the world are due to religion.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Child molestation also happens to young girls at the hands of men. Does this mean heterosexuality is to blame?

    The issue here is that young children are being taken advantage of. Legalized gay marriages between two adults is their business.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Hain? It is just like marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable, but a man taking advantage of a little girl is unacceptable.

    This isn’t about homosexuality. It is about child molestation.

  • Noman Ansari

    Dude… if it is so bad there, why don’t you move back?Recommend

  • Sane

    Absolutely incorrect you say that all big ills in the world are due to religion. Islam and none of the religion either Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc. teaches doing evils and ills. Those who do evils and ills do not follow religion. The main cause of all small and big ills are due to not following religion. Islam does not tell to crucify a 21 years old for opposing the government. This could be due to non following law of the country, but not laws as Islam draws out.Recommend

  • marik

    But I expect a lot of kids from Tajik,Uzbek and Hazara community are kidnapped to be sold to perverts from Pashtun communityRecommend

  • Khurram

    This can only change if these traditions are not glorified but challanged. Qureish in the preislamic era had tribal traditions of hospitality for a guest and revenge from an enemy but they were challenged but now we are being fed that this is a traditional code in that area and cannot be challengedRecommend

  • Sane

    Well, this does not matter if such crimes are higher in any other country and that way put dirt under the carpet. Crime remains a crime either at large scale of small either in Africa, Australia, America, Asia or any other place. This is heinous crime and must be condemned. How a crime could be a part of culture and custom. Those who think that way are disillusioned and justifying a crime instead of condemning it.Recommend

  • Opinionated2

    That culture of child rape is marching into Europe at this very moment.Recommend

  • Kumar

    Please also enlighten us of the pleasantries if the two ‘consenting’ adults are siblings … or if it is an ‘adult’ animal and an adult human. By logic and law you could allow incest and bestiality as well. After all they are all ‘consenting’ adults, no? Please write an article on the feasibility of this too. We would like to hear from your enlightened mind before it is polluted by the nuisance of a marriage between man and woman.
    Also please tell us how to pull a Cameron at a certain Oxford society.Recommend

  • goldconsumer

    These practices are prevalent around the world. Even where “ladies” are available for that purpose at each corner of the street. Show your bigotry with valid comments..Recommend

  • Simla

    If Muslim dominated areas are such paradise on earth, why oh why Muslims are rushing towards the West. I notice this habit among many Muslims who are living in the West, who avail all the benefits and opportunities that West offers, that they constantly disparage their host countries. They have no sense of gratitude, make no effort to assimilate, constantly play the victim card and demand the host countries should leave their modern, egalitarian way of life and adapt to Bedouin culture. If you are so superior, why don’t you go back to your superior Muslim countries.
    ET, today Guardian published two articles related to Muslims and Islam. You should urge your fellow countrymen to read the comments made by the majority in the UK.Recommend

  • GoldRiver

    How dare you slander against one of the greatest sufi saints and poets that walked this earth? Do you even know who was Mevlana Rumi?Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Very strange there non-adults (under 18) does with consent is acceptable to you, but by shariah when boy and girl can become adult from 13 to onwards and their marriage is involving whole society, family and bride groom, is not acceptable to YouRecommend

  • ارشد حسین

    You are blaming Taliban for what, there were no crime rates, no rape, no drugs, no bacha bazi, same as Saudia, A common man or woman can go to Qazi at any time in 24 hours and he was given their rights, but now these crimes are high.Recommend

  • sterry

    Afghans are not related to Arabs and Jews according to DNA studies so you are wrong. Arabs and Jews are related races with related languages termed ” Semites”.Unfortunately Arabs are tend to sexually abuse children and boys in their culture similar to Afghans but that is no reason to say they are genetically related.Recommend

  • Kandyce Brothers

    that kind of boy????? these men are pedophiles hiding under the cloak of misinterpreted religion, culture and evil and the US is just a guilty for turning a blind eye to the abuse of children. Thought they went to war in the middle east to fight for freedom and democracy???? #hypocritesRecommend

  • Christina Rattehalli

    Actually I wouldn’t have a problem if two 13 year olds wanted to get married. I would probably question their judgement. I would have a problem if a 40 year old and a 13 year old got married and if the parents made the two 13 year olds marry. Again it’s about consent.Recommend

  • Shiv

    Every muslim claims to profess the greatest religion on earth, and they also commit the most heinous crimes to their own fellow humans. For centuries, there has been no value add to society but just loot, plunder and rape. Be it the Arabs, central asians or the afghans, the Al Bakistanis glorify those who continue to ravage their lands! Where has your self esteem gone?Recommend

  • kulwant singh

    I have never been to KPK and it is not my intention to tarnish the image of any tribe or country but I came across a documentary titled Hidden Shame of Pakistan and was pained to watch it, it is available on youtube and you can watch it your self/Recommend

  • Humza

    It happens all over the world but it is considered wrong and punishable everywhere – except Afghanistan. In Afghanistan it is unfortunately commonplace , police ignore it and people accept it and that’s why US soldiers there were so disgusted. Yes there is child porn in US but it is illegal – understand the difference.Recommend

  • Jayanthi Srinivasan

    So you are proud of it?Shows your morals. Dirty.Recommend

  • ss7581

    I came to find this article because I was reading about a US soldier that was commanded not to interfere after a child was raped, and allow the police to resolve these issues. Unfortunately it was the police committing the crime. As he had his own son he couldn’t bear the thought of doing nothing and confronted the police. He was laughed at and the mother was beaten up when she tried to report the crime. He ended up shoving and threatening the officer with harm if he was found assaulting that boy again. The soldier was immediately reassigned elsewhere and is now being kicked out of the military.
    Many in the US support that action and can’t imagine being anywhere a child needs help in any country and not stepping up to do the right thing. If the soldiers aren’t allowed to save a child who is being raped, they should just leave. There is nothing more heinous and more deserving of help than a young child being sodomized.Recommend

  • ss7581

    So long as the abuse stops and those guilty are dealt with, I don’t think it matters what leads us to that point. Even though there are some complicit in sexual crimes, MOST places you go people will be arrested and despised for taking part. It doesn’t mean we can stop it before it happens anywhere. But with education and law enforcement it can be reduced, and those assaulted will have the opportunity for justice.Recommend

  • ss7581

    I’m in the US and people are horrified that soldiers are being prevented from intervening. The soldiers are having a difficult time not responding to it personally, to the extent they have disobeyed the order and been sent home.Recommend

  • Smith Sons

    for truth please do visit KPK and you will be surprised by the warm regard, honor and hospitality. These cases are more prevalent in other parts of country, KPK image has been tarnished for no reason.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    There is a claw in our religion, if a bride while becoming adult, want to abolish her marriage, she has full rights. So she can go through it. And there are millions of such examples.Recommend

  • Sonia K

    I don’t think that children are taken advantage of….. the bachas or so to say …. are completely aware of all the consequences and enter into such contracts again and again of their own accord and also experiment… as a part of TRADITION…. so while molestation maybe hetero or homo…. bacha bazi is a totally different thing…
    btw thanks for challenging the concept…. gave me food for thought!Recommend

  • Sonia K

    So that women replace bachas…. how thoughtful…. just thinking aloud!Recommend

  • Vap

    I don’t know what do you mean by “Value Add to society” when the world biggest charity organization is run by a muslim. Several NGO’s are being run by muslims. Free food is being given to people. There are muslim scientists in the world doing what scientists do best There are peace nobel laureate. Why do you have to see the world with a narrow lens?Recommend

  • ms12191

    Wikipedia specifically mentions Uzbekistan (Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent) as a hotbed of Bacha Bazi before Soviet times. Take a look at the references quoted there.Recommend

  • TBW

    Ignorance. Not innocence.Recommend

  • Seph

    Its actually not as simple as the documentary shows. It presents it as some kind of social sanctioned rape of boys. Most dances don’t devolve into drugging and rape. The exterior justification used is they are just dancing and women dancing infront of men is shameful so a boy doing it dressed as a women is innocent.

    Yeah, its sounds very stupid, but most vices are justified in this way. Many women in the west are sold into sexual slavery and rape and drugs and pimps in the same way. The exterior justification may be stripping or some other form mild pleasure, but in the end criminals use these as fronts.Recommend

  • Taligsik Kalangitan

    I know people from KPK and was shocked to see their mobile phones have dancing bacha videos. One guy he has a photo of a cute bacha in his wallet, i asked him if its his son, he said no. It is prevalent in that part of Pakistan.Recommend

  • starchild

    It is interesting that this article repeatedly refers to “children”, despite a description of a bacha bazi as having “traces of a moustache and beard”, and the only cited age of a bacha bazi being 16 – an older teenager, not a “child”, except by the standards of government edicts in some countries that ignore the natural occurrence of puberty that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood.

    Sixteen year olds are considered adults for most or all purposes in many parts of the world, and it is even a legal age of sexual consent in some U.S. states, as well as being the age at which most U.S. state governments allow people to operate motor vehicles which are much more dangerous than sex.

    Do some of these young men do things for money that they would rather not do? Undoubtedly, as do many people around the world who work at jobs they do not like, including people in the United States working in places like factory farms, McDonald’s, and WalMart. This is a regrettable consequence of the fact that poverty in the world remains common, but it is not the sinister or uniquely oppressive situation that this sensationalist and irresponsible media piece makes it out to be.Recommend

  • starchild

    If it’s about consent, why would you care about the age difference?Recommend

  • starchild

    Yeah? Then why do you use examples of older teenagers in your story who are not children?Recommend

  • starchild

    Thank you for distinguishing here between bacha bazi involving teens, and child molestation. I wish you had done the same in your op-ed piece.Recommend

  • starchild

    What is your definition of “adult”? Whatever age some government law happens to arbitrarily say that it is?Recommend

  • starchild

    It’s not clear that the story involved any actual children; a post-puberty teenager is not a child. Rape is, of course, wrong no matter what the age of the victim, but if you do a web search for “rape culture” you’ll find that many people already consider it to be prevalent in places like the U.S. and Europe, so to speak of it “marching” into Europe comes across as anti-immigrant fear-mongering.Recommend

  • starchild

    Very good question, I wonder the same thing. I can understand someone having criticisms of Western culture, but to be living in the UK for 35 years and find *nothing* redeeming about Western culture, society, or history begs the question, why are you there?Recommend

  • starchild

    Trying to impose any system of rules on people by force of law will not end a practice like bacha bazi. Many Western governments, and others, have been criminalizing and trying to eliminate prostitution and teenage sex for years, with zero success. With a few exceptions, prostitution, and sex involving anyone under age 18, are criminalized in the United States. Don’t assume that similar laws will suddenly work better if you call them “shariah” – human nature and teen sexuality are what they are. Recommend

  • starchild

    If you attempt to tar all Muslims with the same brush, then you make a similar mistake as those Muslims who attempt to tar all “Western culture” with the same brush. Many Muslims who migrate to Europe or elsewhere do assimilate; you don’t notice them much, because they have assimilated.Recommend

  • starchild

    Most of the big ills in the world are due to violations of the Non-Aggression Principle. Sadly, many religions have either condoned such violations, or encouraged attitudes that lead their followers to commit aggression even when a religion does not officially condone it according to most scholars.Recommend

  • starchild

    Rape is wrong in all cases, but it’s not clear how much of the bacha bazi tradition actually involves children. A post-pubescent teenager is not a child, despite what some arbitrary, non-scientific government statutes may say.Recommend

  • starchild

    An adult non-human animal is probably not capable of giving consent, so that example is not a good one. But incest should be legal. The only valid reason for the taboo against it is that close relatives having children is a bad idea due to the increased risk of inheriting undesirable genetic traits. If an incestuous couple takes responsible birth control precautions, then that is not an issue, and only irrational prejudice remains as an argument against it.Recommend

  • starchild

    I don’t see any references in the article to actual children, only teens. Are you assuming there are actual pre-pubescent children involved? That may be so, but the article appears to wrongfully conflate the two separate categories.Recommend

  • starchild

    Strict penal laws against such things rarely have much effect. Many governments have tried for years to stamp out prostitution, the “world’s oldest profession”, with little result except to ruin a lot of lives and waste a lot of taxpayer money.Recommend

  • starchild

    True, although the article does not appear to mention any actual children, only teenagers who are presumably past the age of puberty.Recommend

  • DangThatsLoud

    Leading academics have documented the same. Due to social restrictions many young Arabs will experiment with their same sex friends. There is not the opportunity to do so with the opposite sex. They don’t necessarily ‘turn gay’, but many will have their first and formative sexual experiences with a partner of the same sex. Know something about the subject matter before being snippy gold…Recommend

  • One-Scroll Man!

    So it is said that History repeat it’s self, can’t that asteroid hit faster, hit Afganistan and Pakistan first.
    People ask me why do I want to see the world Burn…this is why!
    Please Emperor Trump, accidentally trip and fall on the nuke launcher, just one rockets accidentally fals there…by accident.Recommend

  • make up

    This mentality can only be tackled with a concerted effort to revise a cultural norm. Somewhere along the way these people began to assume it was okay to take advantage of a child. For such a perverse act to become acceptable in parts of Pakhtun culture must have taken deep psychological conditioning, especially considering how many victims of sexual abuse become abusers themselves. It shall take equally complex psychological conditioning to invalidate child sex abuse as an acceptable act.Recommend

  • Charlie Fien

    You’re blind then.
    “I started dancing at wedding parties when I was 10, when my father died,” says Omid.

    We were hungry, I had no choice. Sometimes we go to bed on empty stomachs. When I dance at parties I earn about $2 or some pulau rice.

    I ask him what happens when people take him to hotels. He bows his head and pauses for a long time before answering.

    Omid says he is paid about $2 for the night. Sometimes he is gang raped.

    I ask him why he doesn’t go to the police for help.

    They are powerful and rich men. The police can’t do anything against them.”Recommend

  • starchild

    Okay fair enough, but consider a few points:

    (1) He doesn’t say he was raped when he was 10, only that he started dancing for money at wedding parties at that age. For all we know, sexual assaults didn’t occur until he was much older.

    (2) He said he chose that work; nobody enslaved him – that he and (presumably his family members) were hungry, and he had no choice. Do you think they should have starved instead?

    (4) Is it just possible that a poor Afghan teen might tell a reporter working on a story about something like this what he thought s/he wanted to hear, in hopes of eliciting sympathy and getting some monetary or other assistance? One unverifiable anecdote is not a lot to go on.Recommend

  • jae

    Teenagers are children.Recommend

  • jae

    I hope you know that these “ladies” don’t have a choice, if they want to eat. No girl or woman WANTS to be a hooker and most are trafficked and tricked into doing it and than trapped. These women and girls are almost always victims of sexual abuse since childhood. Please stop thinking that prostitutes WANT to do what they are doing.Recommend

  • jae

    Hence why separation of sexes from a young age is a bad idea! If boys and girls grow up together, there is more respect from men towards women and they learn self-control from a younger age. I grew up with boys and never was abused by them. Just like how Europeans don’t get all excited over breasts, they’ve seen them their whole lives and it’s not a big deal to them.Recommend