Bacha Bazi Documentary Uncovers Horrific Sexual Abuse of Afghan Boys

“Bacha bazi,” or “boy play” is a disturbing practice that entangles Afghanistan’s most vulnerable boys — recruited from the streets or sold to “masters” by their poor families — in a world of violence and sex.

In a recently released Clover Films documentary, “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan“, a reporter and his crew expose the world of bacha bazi. They told one man, Dastager, who keeps a “stable” of boys, a fabricated story about them comparing bacha bazi with a similar practice in Europe. Dastager and his cohorts completely opened up to the reporter and gave an intimate and disturing look into Afghanistan’s bacha bazi culture. 

Stop the disturbing Bacha Bazi practice now!

These “dancing boys” are young. Dastager bought one boy, Shafik (though his name was changed), from a destitute family in the countryside. The boy looks no older than nine. 

The boys are kept by wealthy, powerful men who train them to sing, dance and play instruments — skills they’ll use to entertain parties made up of all men. The men force the boys to they wear women’s clothes and jangling bells. Many times these parties are small and secret, but cameras recorded a bacha bazi circle taking place as part of a wedding celebration, with hundreds of guests. 

When the dancing concludes, the boy is then sold to the highest bidder, or shared among the most powerful men for sex.

The bacha bazi culture is filled with expolitation, violence, rape and even murder, if a boy crosses his master or tries to escape the bacha bazi world. These children are puppets for their masters — they’re called names, abused and passed around to their master’s friends. The documentary crew caught one particularly disturbing conversation between men who, when they don’t know the camera is recording, recount a night when a dancing boy laid in a van while the men took turns having sex with him. The men gleefully recalled how “beautiful” the boy was.

Bacha bazi is a world where children are sex objects, and it’s a world where, often, the only escape is death.

The attendees of these parties and the masters of these boys are some of society’s most powerful men, from merchants to warlords. A United Nations report on bacha bazi found many are members of the government. Police told the documentary reporter that people who participate in bacha bazi will be punished no matter how powerful they are. But later, camera’s find that same policeman at a bacha bazi party himself. Especially disturbing is the fact that the Chief of the Youth Crime Department was there, as well.

Buying and selling children, and sex acts with children, are illegal, but because such powerful people participate in bacha bazi, it’s extremely difficult to enforce the laws. After the documentary exposing the world of the dancing boys was released, some of the men featured in it were arrested. But soon after, they were back on the streets and practicing bacha bazi again.

The story of bacha bazi is tragic and the situation may seem hopeless, but these boys need our help too much to give up. They’re trapped in bacha bazi’s web and more people need to speak up against this cruel and exploitative practice. Sign our Care2 petition and tell the UN envoy to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, to encourage President Karzai to enforce laws against bacha bazi and end the practice once and for all.



photo via isafmedia on Flickr


Sue H
Sue H1 months ago


Kelly S
Past Member about a year ago


Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers8 years ago

A society that condones this sort of behaviour is a very SICK SOCIETY!!!

Valentina G.

Karen C.
Karen C8 years ago

I saw a documentary last night on PBS about sex trafficing women from the Ukraine. Before today I knew that boys from Thailand were sold for sex but not from Afgahnastain. I hope the U.N. will be able to curb this practice.

Kyle W.
Kyle W.8 years ago

By Kyle Wright - An Austrlian University Student studying the Bachelor of Social Work.

Bacha bazi should be stopped altogether and human rights activists are justified in campaigning against the practice. Afghanistan's voluntary membership to human rights instruments and their legal requirements make the cultural custom of bacha bazi an illegal practice and one that can be justifiably protested against by human rights activists inside and outside of Afghanistan. However, legal obligations and legal power can have little to no effect for the general citizens of a country like Afghanistan and their hopes of ending the cultural practice of bacha bazi may take several more years to achieve. I believe that Afghanistan has taken the first few fundamental steps to stopping the practice, and while corruption, war, poverty and general lawlessness are taking place in the country, it is clear that is indeed a future where human rights activism sees to the end of bacha bazi. Through the application of strong public policies by an ethical government and a strong national social welfare sector to ease the poverty, the cultural practice of bacha bazi can and will be eradicated. Overall, it appears that ancient cultural practices and their merits for a culture will always conflict with the application of modern human rights, but this conflict is vital to finding and living in justice.

Daniel G.
Daniel G.8 years ago

Some things are simply wrong whether rooted in traditions or cultural in origin. Yes, abusers exists everywhere, but never are they openly practicing their acts in public fully condoned by much of society. It says a lot about a civilization that has such despicable practices and an unwillingess to confront them.

valda p.
valda p8 years ago

Poor little boys,what miserable lives they will have,these filthy depraved men ,I hope"Allah" has a special place for them and it won't be" Paradise"true, pedaphiles are in all countries and cultures,but not so blantant as shown in the video,how can any parent sell their child ,no matter how poor,knowing their fate,to those low life peices of human excretia,there has to be ,one day for all the used and abused children on this planet -JUSTICE.

bob m.
bob m8 years ago

Tahir; The way I see it and believe; you are a liar.
The follower of the father of lies and a false prophet.
Jesus is Lord.

Kitchi Ramos
Past Member 8 years ago

As an anthropologist, I find it hard to give any biased comment on the tradition of Bacha Bazi. It is an ancient tradition on its revival (or shall I say had been occurring even when it was banned by the Taliban?) and is part of one's culture. We cannot simply say that it is inhumane regarding our personal beliefs as bases. As an anthropologist who had worked with law enforcers, I know that this practice is technically wrong since it involves several types of abusive acts towards a young boy who is suppose to be living the life of a young boy.

As an outsider, I couldn't just intervene since the issue involved here is tradition/ cultural practice but I can show them the film by Najibullah Quraishi, a mirror image of what is happening in their society and let the people decide on what to do next. Perhaps, outsiders could help the people of Afghanistan in other aspects of society that would help them improve their living conditions since it is currently the main issue on why the boys were forced into the tradition of Bacha Bazi.