After a month of negotiations with the Taliban, President Trump cancelled a secret meeting at Camp David scheduled for this past weekend between the U.S. and its Afghan partners: Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, and leaders of the Taliban.
Trump called off the meeting after an attack by the Taliban on Thursday that killed an American soldier and 11 others in the Afghan capital of Kabul. “If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway,” Trump stated. “How many more decades are they willing to fight?”
Wanting to end America’s longest standing war (the U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 years) as well as bring peace to the region, Trump has accepted the fact that the Taliban – for better or worse — are a political force to contend with and has involved them in the negotiations.
While we can all accept that the Taliban are “the worst,” it is also worth taking a look at the horrific culture of our other Afghani “partners,” who ignore and many times condone the rampant phenomena in the country of the sexual molestation and prostitution of boys.
In what is called Bacha Bazi (boy play), boys are dressed like women and dance for their would-be male predators — primarily Sunni Pashtun Afghan males. The practice often includes child pornography, sexual slavery and prostitution.
It is believed by some that this corrupt behavior stems from “[t]he seclusion of women and the practice of polygamy [which] limit[s] 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 [defenseless young males].”
Others claim that this normalization of sodomy, despite Islamic teaching prohibiting it, is the result of Pashtuns being “[s]heltered by their pastoral setting and unable to speak Arabic—the language of all Islamic texts—[for which] many Afghans allow social customs to trump religious values, including those Quranic verses eschewing homosexuality and promiscuity.”
Pashtun social norms, which remain “largely misogynistic and male-dominated due to deeply-ingrained Islamic values,” hold that Bacha Bazi does not oppose Islamic teachings on homosexuality or pedophilia, and is far more ethical than defiling a woman. So long as the man does not love the boy, the sexual act is not reprehensible, provided that the perpetrator is the only active partner in the encounter. Some assailants claim that they can have sex with boys, referring to some hadiths that apparently are used to encourage such behavior:
Buhaysah reported on the authority of his father: My father sought permission from the Prophet. (When permission was granted and he came near him) he entered him and his shirt, and began to kiss him and embrace him.—Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 9, Hadith 1665
Usaid ibn Hudair reported: While he was talking to people and telling jokes to make them laugh, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, poked him in the side with a staff. Usaid said, “Let me retaliate!” The Prophet said, “Take retaliation.” Usaid said, “Indeed, you are wearing a shirt and I am not.” The Prophet lifted up his shirt, so he hugged him and kissed his side. Usaid said, “This is all I wanted, O Messenger of Allah.”— Musnad Ahamda, Sunan Abu Dawood, hadith 5224
According to estimates, “as many as 50 percent of the men in the Pashtun tribal areas of southern Afghanistan take boy lovers, making it clear that pedophilia or abuse of males who are still minors is a pervasive issue affecting entire rural communities.” This practice primarily exploits street orphans and poor boys, some as young as 11 years of age, whose parents are paid to hand over their sons to their new “masters.”
Research also shows that many Pashtuns who purchase or kidnap boys for this type of sexual exploitation (among them are local governors, military commanders and police chiefs) do so because for them, it becomes a symbol of their power in the community.
The United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have upheld a nonintervention policy because of the political and international ramifications of those who engage in the practice. Since the Afghan Pashtuns have openly opposed the Taliban, the US-led international community has taken the position to overlook their abhorrent practices for fear of alienating them — at the cost of overlooking the plight of the boys who are being sexually abused by them.
As the U.S. is now engaged in negotiating with both sides in the Afghan conflict, it is time to call out this abuse for what it is and stop the morally unsupportable practice of failing to stand up for abused children.
N. B. This article was originally published by the Clarion Project on September 9, 2019.