Some Afghan Men Form Sexual Relationships With Young Boys

On the eve of Obama’s speech on the Iraq transition, the last thing anyone needs is another reason to have misgivings about the situation in Afghanistan – but that’s certainly what a piece from this weekend’s San Francisco Chronicle provides.  Among the Pashtun, Afghanistan’s major ethnic group, sexual relationships between grown men and boys as young as nine are common, according to Joel Brinkley, a journalism professor at Stanford.

The term for these men is “bacha baz,” which translates to “boy player” (although, as Tracy Clark-Flory observes at Broadsheet, could also translate well as “pedophile”).  According to Brinkley, the “bacha baz” boast about their boy lovers, seeing them as a status symbol.  At dances, the boys will dress up as women and dance for their middle-aged male paramours; the men will throw money at the boys and eventually take them home. 

A recent State Department report assessed the situation bluntly, saying that it amounts to a “widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape.”

The irony is that the “bacha baz” seem to have arisen because of deeply ingrained sexism within Afghan culture.  For men, women are completely unapproachable.  Brinkley explains,

“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.”

And women are not just out of men’s grasp – they’re culturally coded to be downright unpleasant.  Women, according to Brinkley, are seen as “unclean” and “distasteful.”  Menstruation disgusts their male partners, and women are seen as bearers of children, rather than sexually desirable potential partners.  In this environment, “women are for children, boys are for pleasure.”  And of course, the middle-aged men control the women and the boys.

The most disturbing part was the extent to which this pattern seems to be written into the culture – Brinkley quoted a boy who, speaking to a Reuters reporter, said, “Once I grow up, I will be an owner, and I will have my own boys.”  How do you break this kind of cycle?  One thing is for sure – although the boys may eventually gain positions of power, as children, they are as helpless and objectified as the women.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin7 years ago

Until the time all humans are treated equal, with the rights to their own bodies, until that happens, the predominantly male population, with power over anyone else, will continue to use and abuse those without power.

Ruth Barrett
Ruth Barrett7 years ago

Aaron - homosexuality has no more to do with man/little boy paedophilia than heterosexuality has to do with man/little girl paedophilia.

Aaron Baker
Aaron Baker7 years ago

Like HOMOSEXUALITY, things like this will be tolerated, accepted, and eventually be considered a"hatecrime" if someone speaks out against it.

Allan Y.
.7 years ago

Why is this country being singled out? We have a very large man/boy organization in the U.S !

Salma A.
Salma-Ahmad Khan7 years ago

This is an ABHORRING & DISGUSTING behavior to the Max!!!
The important thing for the rest of us non Afghanis to understand is that NO one can change another people by COERCION, ANNIHILATION, or BOMBING them out of existence{like some are suggesting~WHICH IS EQUALLY LOATHABLE}~ preach IN your own home before sermonizing others~OR DON'T THROW STONES AT OTHERS if YOU ARE LIVING in a GLASS HOUSE! Before even thinking on those lines let's introspect & reflect on our & our society's actions~like some one said to look at NAMBLA!
Has any body ever tried to cogitate how many Catholic priests molest young boys! Perhaps, percentage would be above 90~but we don't label Christianity/Catholicism as a religion of pedophiles! What I'm trying to explain is~that this action personal/ cultural{if wide spread~I don't know how prevalent it is over there}! But this I can say~ with my LIFE on line~ that IT is TOTALLY UNISLAMIC & is a MAJOR SIN~just like ADULTERY, DRINKING, GAMBLING etc. Many Muslims commit these sins every day! So, we CAN'T blame ISLAM for their HORRENDOUS BEHAVIOR!
Alhamdulillah, I am a MUSLIM! Grew up in a Muslim country & a Muslim family who taught us the real Islamic values which= Human rights & values!!!

Cheryl W.
Cheryl W7 years ago

I think the entire purpose of this story is to inflame people against Afghanistan. (We don't need any help with that, thank you). Why single them out? Look right here in our own yard...... anyone ever hear of NAMBLA? Google it, right here in the good ol' USA.

Petra Luna
Petra Luna7 years ago

This is why we need a global April's Law. Please sign the US version, in hopes that this will pioneer a world version to help protect all children from sex abuse.

Cut and paste into your browser:

Emilia M.
Emilia M7 years ago

that is so disgusting!!! pigs!

bob m.
bob m7 years ago

May I propose that this is not evidence of a power imbalance so much as a manifestation of anything but Power in Love.
It is more like a form of vampire culture.
these are TAKERS; living in a takers culture .
devoid of natural affection and froman early age themselves, raised to carry on the traditions of men.
God is a Giver...
The truth is not in them.

Ruth Anastacia A.

Pedophaelia is one of the atrocious results of *any* culture where adult men have all the power and the women and children none. Contrary to what some posters have said, though their position is logical, some change is possible. Education, the economic empowerment of women, and contraception are tools that can, slowly, chip away at the abuses of paternalistic societies. We have to at least try, or else our ethics mean nothing.