After watching an excerpt from this soon-to-air TV documentary, I made a note on my calendar to watch the full episode. A recent article in the New York Review of Books about a possible deal with the Taliban, in a passage about about their ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, shed light on a topic I was totally ignorant of: man boy love as part of the Afghanistan culture:
After the Soviets left Afghanistan, Zaeef became a mullah in a small village near Kandahar. He describes how the situation deteriorated in the south as warlords and criminals extracted tolls from trucks on the road, kidnapped and raped women, and held young boys captive to become their forced lovers.
Until I read that last part, I had no inkling of this aspect to the Taliban or other Afghan men. Now, PBS will examine the sex trade of adolescent and pubescent males in Afghanistan, expanding my knowledge about this practice:
News to me, this bacha bazi custom and its longstanding practice. I'm not familiar with male-on-male attractions and sexual outlets among Afghan men, and given the hard-line Muslim attitudes of the region, I wouldn't expect a flourishing market in sexual trading of dancing boys, much less an openness by adult males to allow a camera to record their activities.
As the United States deepens its commitment to Afghanistan, FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the war-torn nation to reveal a disturbing practice that is once again flourishing in the country: the organized sexual abuse of adolescent boys.
In The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, airing Tuesday, April 20, 2010, at 9 P.M. [...] Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi [...] 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.” [...]
“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.”
“It’s a disgusting practice. ... It’s a form of slavery, taking a child, keeping him. It’s a form of sexual slavery,” says Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. special representative for Children and Armed Conflict. [...]
The Afghan situation correlates somewhat to the man boy love scandals plaguing the Vatican right now, in that repressive religious beliefs have dire consequences on the lives of children when the various sexual needs of adult men don't have healthy and consensual outlets, especially of a male-on-male nature.
What does surprise me is that this may be the first documentary on this Afghan practice. If there's another TV account about bachi bazi, lemme know about it. Here's the PBS excerpt that is quite a queer eye-opener: