I wrote several years ago about the widespread practice of pederasty among Muslims, especially in South Asia. The custom in which older men groom young boys for sex and keep them as catamites has been practiced for centuries in Afghanistan and parts of Iran and Pakistan. It is not for nothing that Kandahar is known as “the homosexual capital of South Asia”.
Like many other “macho” cultures, most Islamic societies do not view men who have sex with young boys as homosexuals, provided that the practitioner acts as the active partner in the encounter. The seclusion of women and the practice of polygamy limit the access of young men to normal heterosexual outlets for their urges, so Islamic societies, particularly in the less developed areas, have come to resemble prison culture with their sexual predators and “nancy boys”.
Our regular tipster JD sent us an email about a PBS program on this topic that aired last night:
A disturbing episode of the documentary show Frontline was on TV last night (9pm 20 April 2010) entitled “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”.
“In the midst of war and endemic poverty, an ancient tradition has re-emerged across Afghanistan: Hundreds of boys are being lured off the streets with promises of a new life, many unaware their fate is to be used for entertainment and sex.”
The show may be watched online here.
Below are some excerpts from PBS’ synopsis of the program:
In The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi (Behind Taliban Lines) returns to his native land to expose an ancient practice that has been brought back by powerful warlords, former military commanders and wealthy businessmen. Known as “bacha bazi” (literal translation: “boy play”), this illegal practice exploits street orphans and poor boys, some as young as 11, whose parents are paid to give over their sons to their new “masters.” The men dress the boys in women’s clothes and train them to sing and dance for the entertainment of themselves and their friends. According to experts, the dancing boys are used sexually by these powerful men.
In detailed conversations with several bacha bazi masters in northern Afghanistan and with the dancing boys they own, reporter Quraishi reveals a culture where wealthy Afghan men openly exploit some of the poorest, most vulnerable members of their society.
“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.”
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“I had a boy because every commander had a partner,” says Mestary, a former senior commander who is well connected with major Afghan warlords. “Among the commanders there is competition, and if I didn’t have one, then I could not compete with them.”
“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.”
In the documentary, Quraishi interviews local police officials who insist that men who participate in bacha bazi will be arrested and punished regardless of their wealth or powerful connections. Later that day, however, Quraishi’s cameras catch two officers from the same police department attending an illegal bacha bazi party.
“Many of the people who do this work for the government,” says Nazer Alimi, who compiled a report on bacha bazi for UNICEF. “They speak out against it but are abusers themselves…. I personally cannot mention any names because I am scared.”
Quraishi speaks with some dancing boys who fear they will be beaten or killed. “If they stray, they get killed,” says a 13-year-old dancing boy. “Sometimes fighting happens among the men who own the boys. If you don’t please them, they beat you, and people get killed.”
The program will conclude with a detailed update of attempts to arrange the rescue of one of the dancing boys profiled in the film, an 11-year-old boy bought by Dastager from an impoverished rural family. It is a dramatic final chapter, full of new shocks and surprises, and, in the end, provides a measure of justice for the boy and his master.
Phyllis Chesler has a post today on this topic.
A snip from her essay:
…Human Rights Watch, cited by Amnesty International, first broke this story in 1997. They cited it as a Taliban-abuse. I write about this in my book The Death of Feminism. Now UNICEF says that this practice “has to be eradicated.” The documentary narrative admits that, although such sex slavery is illegal, the police will not make arrests, and that the rare jail sentence is quickly commuted. The police themselves often comprise the all-male audiences who enjoy the dancing boy performances.
And the people are so very poor and have so few options.
Bacha bazi (dancing boys) are taken and trained in singing and dancing when they are as young as six years old, more often when they are nine or ten…
As they say, read the whole thing, here. There are some cogent comments, also, including one which explains Islam as a Crime Syndicate.