Friday, April 23, 2021
Home Opinions 'Bacha Bazi': The rampant sexual exploitation of minor boys in Afghanistan and Pakistan

‘Bacha Bazi’: The rampant sexual exploitation of minor boys in Afghanistan and Pakistan

A practice that was said to have slowed down was revived when Afghan warlords started to purchase and own one or more boys to display power and wealth. The boys are either kidnapped or purchased from their families, often made to dress as females and wear makeup and made to dance at private parties and weddings.

Sometimes the darkest place on earth can be one’s own soul.

In 2019, a Pakistani news website Dawn had narrated the story of Kaleem, a 13-year old who was left perplexed on seeing the joy of men while receiving him when he arrived at a colony housing coal-miners to work as a cook. Little did he know that the happiness was because he was now available to offer sexual pleasures to the workers. Farhad (who does not want to be identified by his real name), as reported by Reuters, leads a life as a father by the day and a sex-worker by the night.

While stories like these diminish our faith in humanity, Bacha Bazi which essentially means “boy play”, a centuries-old tradition has begun to crawl back in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Towns and cities of Afghanistan and Pakistan are infested with the practice of having a ‘chottu’ or a side-kick, essentially boys from the age of 7 to 14 years for sexual pleasures. What shocks the global audience is the justification of indulging in sex with a minor of the same gender even though Islam explicitly prohibits homosexuality.

The practise of Bacha Bazi takes this cruelty a step further where young boys also known as Bacha Bareesh (beardless boys) are made to sell their bodies, indulge in erotic dance and dress as females. Powerful men purchase young boys to show their prowess, get them to dance in all-men parties and pass around for sexual gratification. When the boys reach their late teens or start to grow beards, they are released to live a regular life. However, the trauma caused makes it impossible for the boys to then integrate with society.

A practice that was said to have slowed down was revived when Afghan warlords started to purchase and own one or more boys to display power and wealth. The boys are either kidnapped or purchased from their families, often made to dress as females and wear makeup and made to dance at private parties and weddings. These young boys are owned by single or married men, who keep them for sexual pleasures. As per a report in The Independent, Afghanistan’s Pashtun culture does not see Bacha Bazi as an un-Islamic or homosexual act since the men do not love the boy, but simply keep them for the sexual act. It is justified by stating that the practice is far more ethical than “defiling a woman”. 

Rehearsal still from a musical performed in New York on Bacha Bazi, image via BBC

The debate on Bacha Bazi was reignited with the discovery of a Facebook page featuring more than 100 videos of young boys being abused. This then led to the unearthing of a paedophile scandal that involved around 500 young boys in Afghanistan. The Facebook page was exposed by a civil society organization, however, the activists involved were detained by the National Directorate of Security; and released only after being compelled to deny their findings. They then fled the country fearing for life.

Another shocking video released by ‘Real Stories‘, a YouTube channel featured how rampant the practice of keeping young boys for sexual pleasure is in the major cities of Pakistan. The video features several real life characters who agree on camera to having raped young boys regularly.

Bacha Bazi now rampant in Pakistan

Major cities of Pakistan like Peshawar have makeshift hostels on bus stands with ‘charpai’ for drivers to rest at night. These hostels are not just used as pit stops but a place to indulge in sex. The owner of one such hostel admits to luring 7 to 10-year-old boys on the pretext of providing food and shelter, but instead offer them to the bus/ truck drivers for an extra Rs. 50 or 100. A young 8-year old boy confessed how he was approached multiple times by grown-up men to indulge in sexual pleasures on some rooftop in exchange for a soft drink.

The horror does not end there. As per the video, in a survey conducted, 95% truck drivers admitted to have raped young boys regularly. The boys are kept as cleaners by the day and (male) concubines by night. A driver interviewed encourages this practice saying ‘women cannot be taken out of homes so what to do when you are out on the streets for days. Boys can be taken anywhere and everywhere.’ On being asked if it is allowed in Islam, he says no but exclaims, ‘what to do when the sexual needs are strong.’

These boys who are kept as ‘cleaners’ live in extreme poverty. After going hungry for days, most agree to sell their bodies for some food and money. The ones who resist are picked up forcefully and fall victim to gang rape. They are then drugged and made addicts who choose to offer their bodies in return for monies to buy drugs. Even the cinemas function as brothels where boys are raped and sexually abused while watching blue films, the video narrated.

The video ends with Imran Khan, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, stating that poverty and sexual abuse are the most sad and shameful aspect of society and not being able to do anything about it is worse. Claiming that their government (which was then just 7 months old) will make stringent laws against it, the ground reality is far from the rosy statements given.

As per a report (based on tracking of 84 publications which reported sexual abuse cases) by Sahil Organization, age-wise information revealed that children in the age group 6-15 years were most susceptible to abuse and there were more boys as victims than girls.

In a relatively old report by Save The Children Afghanistan, it was revealed that 91% of Afghan children were abused in some way on the other.

Unfortunately, there has not been an attempt to rectify these grave human rights violations because even discussing this topic is taboo in both countries, let alone finding a solution and creating laws. Especially when multiple reports cite the police, lawmakers and religious institutions, all those who are meant to protect the citizens, as perpetrators.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

Arvind Kejriwal nosedives into gutter politics, spreads lies during CMs’ video conference with PM, illegally airs private meeting

As soon as the PM got to know of this fact, he reprimanded Arvind Kejriwal for breaking protocol, and the telecast was immediately stopped. Reportedly, the PM said to Kejriwal, “You have broken a very imp protocol, such private conversation are never televised”.

ThePrint’s contributing editor caught on the wrong foot, tries to play vulture politics over death of colleague, gets called out: Here’s what happened

On Thursday (April 22), 'journalist' Shivam Vij took to Twitter to inform about the death of a college classmate named Shaoli Rudra.

At least 57 dead in hospital mishaps in 4 months in Maharashtra: Who is accountable for the loss?

Here's the list of 4 completely avoidable incidents that took place in Maharashtra in the last few months, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik is an example for counterparts: Speaks to PM, extends help to other states without political drama

Odisha CM speaks to PM Modi, promises all possible help in supplying oxygen to other states during Covid crisis.

Moneycontrol spreads misleading news second time in two days, first about oxygen export, now about Bharat Biotech and the price of vaccine

Moneycontrol has resorted to spreading misleading news about the pricing of COVID-19 vaccinations by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute.

Shashi Tharoor spreads fake news about death of former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Hindustan Times apologises too: Details

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor spread fake news about death of ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, several others joined in

Recently Popular

Priyanka Gandhi’s Twitter faux pas, takes three attempts for condolence tweet

At 10:38 AM, four minutes after her first tweet, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted correct condolence message to correct intended recipient on third attempt.

NDTV journalist Gargi Rawat Ansari shows how she is willing to sacrifice human lives so propaganda continues to reign supreme

NDTV journalist Gargi Rawat Ansari is married to Yusuf Ahmad Ansari, the great-grandson of former Congress President Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari

Sitaram Yechury’s son passes away due to Covid-19

The CPI(M) General Secretary in his tweet thanked all the medical staff who treated his son Ashish Yechury

TikTok Star Funbucket Bhargav, of OMG fame, arrested for raping minor girl

TikTok Star 'Funbucket Bhargav' arrested for raping a minor. Fans of actor Nithya wrongly assumed she was the victim.

Nithyananda bans Indians from entering Kailasa citing Covid-19, issues guidelines for ’embassies’ around the world

Sri Nithyananda of Kailasa has banned travelers from India into his fledgling nation amidst the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Advertisement -


Connect with us