Afghanistan has long been considered one of the most religious countries in the world: a place where men and women follow Islamic doctrine carefully. But behind the devout exterior, the country is hiding a dark secret – one which the government has tried to sweep under the rug.
EDITOR’S NOTE: When creating propaganda videos for the masses, we often see “outraged” Islamic militants throwing gay Muslims off of rooftops because they say that the Qu’ran teaches that homosexuality is a sin. In reality, however, there is a whole subculture of Muslims who love not just gay sex, but gay sex with young boys. They say it’s not gay because they are “not in love” with the boys. Would Muhammed approve? Go ask his 6-year old wife. Welcome to Bacha Bazi.
Bacha bazi, which translate as ‘boy play’, is on the surface a harmless form of entertainment – young boys dancing for the entertainment of their elders. In reality, it is often little more than sex slavery, where boys as young as 10 are passed around a group of middle aged men for their own sexual gratification.
Boys like Shukur, who was just 12 when he was stolen away from his family and made to be a ‘bacha bereesh’. It took him five years to escape, and he now uses the dances he learned to make a living. He is luckier than most.
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Afghanistan’s poverty has been a driving force in the rise of bacha bazi in the last 15 years. It makes it easy for predators to prowl the streets targeting ‘pretty’ young boys, enticing them from their families with promises of work or education.
These promises more often than not come to nothing: instead, the boys are trained as dancers, made to perform to groups of men dressed as girls, bells on their flowing skirts and make up on the faces.
They command the attention of the room as they move to the traditional songs, with words which do more than hint at what is to come.
‘He’s touching the boy with his cotton clothes,’ a musician sang on the 2009 documentary, The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan.
‘Where do you live, so I can get to know your father.
‘Oh boy, you have set your lover on fire.’
Once the party is over, and the dancing has finished, the true horror of their role is revealed.
Then the boys are passed between the men, taken to hotel rooms where they can be sexually abused. ‘The boys don’t earn anything from the parties,’ explained photographer Barat Ali Batoor, who spent months winning the boys’ trust and documenting their lives.
Muhammad was married to thirteen women, including eleven at one time. He relegated them to either consecutive days or (according to some accounts) all in one night. He had sex with a 9-year-old girl and married his adopted son’s wife (after arranging a quick divorce). On top of that, Muhammad had a multitude of slave girls and concubines with whom he had sex – sometimes on the very days in which they had watched their husbands and fathers die at the hands of his army. source
they live as though they are in a relationship with their masters, so their masters keep them, house them and buy them food and things. ‘They have sex with their masters and then at the parties they are abused by different people.’ It is said one of the country’s favourite sayings is women are for children, boys are for pleasure.
The practice, known as ‘bacha bazi’, is ‘shameful’, says Dr Soraya Sobhrang, who led an nation-wide investigation into the practice for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
admitted to us they were bacha bereesh. They don’t want to talk about it. If they want to marry, nobody can know. No family wants to give their daughter to these people.
Dr Sorraya Sobhrang
In any other country, it would be considered paedophilia. In Afghanistan, however, the perpetrators have been protected by the police, scared to upset the powerful warlords and businessmen.
‘A war lord has many – they keep maybe 10 boys, all together,’ Dr Sobhrang told MailOnline. ‘When the boys are beautiful it shows they are powerful, but also the number. You have to spend a lot of money to pay the boys, feed the boys, keep them clothed.
‘It shows your wealth.’
Yet for the boys, more than two fifths of whom are between the age of 13 and 15, being chosen as a bacha bareesh – man without a beard – it is a life sentence, one which will see them cast out of their families and shunned by society.
The fact that homosexuality is officially forbidden in Islam is swept under the carpet by those who participate in bacha bazi, who claim there is a loophole. They are not in love with the boys, and therefore not gay. source