Afghanistan: Men have sex with boys, deny it’s pedophilia

In Afghanistan, as part of an illegal but traditional practice, men recruit young boys, luring them with gifts and money with the intention of having sex with them. They do it under the guise of a disgusting old sexual traditional practice called “bacha bazi” (boy play).


The practice has been widely discussed — for example, in The New York Times, Newsweek and The Daily Mail. Further coverage comes in a video documentary titled ‘They don’t just dance’ that is now available online through RTDoc – an English-language documentary channel created by Russia’s government-backed media company RT.

The documentary shows how under-aged boys are recruited and taught how to dance like women in parties organized by rich folks, who then later select their favorite boy for sex.

In Afghanistan, this is not viewed as homosexuality, even though there are strict laws prohibiting the act.

Amir, an older man acknowledged in the documentary that he is aroused by the sight of young men and admitted to having exploited them sexually. He said:

“Obviously, when I am with boys, I feel aroused, so it’s just a fair exchange. I give them money, and they give me their bodies.”

The men who recruit these young boys are called ‘playboys’. They are rich and well-connected, which places them beyond the law. They often target poor boys who are either desperate to make money or burdened with the responsibility to take care of their families. The recruited boys who are necessarily not gay are usually between the ages of 12–13 and are called ‘bachas’. They remain in the business until they are 20.

Scene from "They Don't Just Dance."

Scene from “They Don’t Just Dance.”

In the documentary, “playboy” Japar, a retired field commander who claimed to have worked with the Afghanistan government, said:

“When a boy is older, we make their life better; we buy their bacha clothes, pay for their wedding when they are no longer wanted.

“We feed them well, we prepare all their food for them, we do everything, we support them in every way.”

One of the bacha boys who talked about his sexual experiences said;

“It feels a bit like love. It can hurt badly too, but money is important.”

Hypocrisy is at play here. Clearly the men involved in this act are pedophiles.

Such acts do not qualify as consensual same-sex relations. Because the youths are powerless, they cannot give their free consent for what is done to them.

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6 thoughts on “Afghanistan: Men have sex with boys, deny it’s pedophilia

  1. Most who sexually abuse children do not do so out of a sexual attraction, but from a wide variety of mental health issues that usually can be summarized by trying to meet various needs through sex. You can be aroused by children without being attracted to them.

    Those who abuse children likewise cannot be called pedophiles unless they have this attraction. Perhaps you need to look into terminology a bit more, because conflating a sexual attraction with sexual abuse impedes our ability to prevent abuse and help those with an attraction.

    TNF 13
    Advocate for the Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse


  2. Great article about a (formerly) little known pedophilic practice. Children cannot give their consent. The dancing, feeding and dressing are what Westerners refer to as grooming the victims. Thanks for exposing it.


    • *Sexually abusive* practice, not pedophilic. It is pedophilic only if it involves a sexual attraction, and without testing these men for such an attraction, using the words “pedophile” or “pedophilic” or “pedophilia” is misleading and spreads myths about how and why abuse happens. We need facts in people’s minds, because it is fact that helps prevent abuse.

      TNF 13
      Advocate for the Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse


      • Since pedophilia is the label given to a mental disorder in which an adult experiences sexual attraction to prepubescent children, I’m not persuaded that it’s inaccurate to label as pedophilia a traditional practice of men recruiting young boys, luring them with gifts and money with the intention of having sex with them. You’d prefer to describe this only as “sexual abuse,” not as “pedophilia,” and apparently believe that these men may be aroused by children without being attracted to them. But the men have sex with them. I do not understand your distinction or how it applies to this situation.
        — Colin Stewart, editor/publisher of this blog


      • Colin,

        It matters because pedophilia is a noun to describe an attraction, not a verb, which describes behavior. A sexual attraction is not the same as a sexual behavior, and a sexual behavior is not the same as a sexually deviant behavior. Using pedophilia and child sexual abuse, as well as pedophile and sexual abuser, conflates all three and makes the entire topic more confusing than it needs to be. It also minimizes child sexual abuse by inferring that it is a behavior that is the result of an attraction, rather than a conscious choice to be sexual with a child. Mixing up the sexual attraction to children, with the sexual abuse of a child, is unwarranted, inaccurate, and only serves to enable child sexual abuse by driving both issues further into darkness and secrecy, where sexual abuse thrives.

        Also, only one-third of those who abuse children have a sexual attraction to them, and the evidence indicates that most with that attraction do not sexually abuse children. Why does that matter? What happens to a 12-year-old boy just discovering that he is attracted to younger children? If the distinction between behavior and attraction is not made, he believes he will inevitably molest children. He gets pushed away from help, not towards it. It also leads the general public to believing that sexual abuse is the result of an attraction, which is a myth, not a fact. If the one-third of abusers who have the attraction got help with it before a child was harmed, we could drastically reduce sexual abuse rates. The evidence suggests that those with the sexual attraction to children are far more numerous than those who have the attraction and abuse children.

        As for the sexual attraction to children being a mental disorder, that is still hotly debated by sexologists and they have not yet come to a consensus on the matter. The changes in the DSM-V reflect this, as pedophilia was changed to pedophilic disorder. There is evidence of people with the attraction who do not have interpersonal difficulties that would ordinarily make something a mental disorder, and there is evidence of people with the attraction who do not molest children. The specific label given to the mental disorder, the attraction, and the behavior should be distinct from one another, however, so as to avoid confusion. Imprecise terms do not help this issue or prevention, and make it harder for advocates and mental health professionals to reach those with the attraction so that they can receive support with it.

        TNF 13
        Advocate for the Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse


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