Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Afghanistan / Sexual Violence against Boys

Afghanistan's Dirty Little Secret
By Joel Brinkley
San Francisco Chronicle, August 29, 2010
"Western forces fighting in southern Afghanistan had a problem. Too often, soldiers on patrol passed an older man walking hand-in-hand with a pretty young boy. Their behavior suggested he was not the boy's father. Then, British soldiers found that young Afghan men were actually trying to 'touch and fondle them,' military investigator AnnaMaria Cardinalli told me. 'The soldiers didn't understand.' All of this was so disconcerting that the Defense Department hired Cardinalli, a social scientist, to examine this mystery. Her report, 'Pashtun Sexuality,' startled not even one Afghan. But Western forces were shocked -- and repulsed. For centuries, Afghan men have taken boys, roughly 9 to 15 years old, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Pashtun tribal members in Kandahar and other southern towns are bacha baz, the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means 'boy player.' The men like to boast about it.
'Having a boy has become a custom for us,' Enayatullah, a 42-year-old in Baghlan province, told a Reuters reporter. 'Whoever wants to show off should have a boy.' Baghlan province is in the northeast, but Afghans say pedophilia is most prevalent among Pashtun men in the south. The Pashtun are Afghanistan's most important tribe. For centuries, the nation's leaders have been Pashtun. ... In Kandahar, population about 500,000, and other towns, dance parties are a popular, often weekly, pastime. Young boys dress up as girls, wearing makeup and bells on their feet, and dance for a dozen or more leering middle-aged men who throw money at them and then take them home. A recent State Department report called 'dancing boys' a 'widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape.' So, why are American and NATO forces fighting and dying to defend tens of thousands of proud pedophiles, certainly more per capita than any other place on Earth? And how did Afghanistan become the pedophilia capital of Asia? Sociologists and anthropologists say the problem results from perverse interpretation of Islamic law. Women are simply unapproachable. Afghan men cannot talk to an unrelated woman until after proposing marriage. Before then, they can't even look at a woman, except perhaps her feet. Otherwise she is covered, head to ankle. 'How can you fall in love if you can't see her face,' 29-year-old Mohammed Daud told reporters. 'We can see the boys, so we can tell which are beautiful.' Even after marriage, many men keep their boys, suggesting a loveless life at home. A favored Afghan expression goes: 'Women are for children, boys are for pleasure.' [...]"

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