As terrible as this is, one must give the Taliban credit for their creativity:
The Taliban are using child sex slaves to mount crippling insider attacks on police in southern Afghanistan, exploiting the pervasive practice of “bacha bazi” — paedophilic boy play — to infiltrate security ranks, multiple officials and survivors of such assaults told AFP.
The ancient custom is prevalent across Afghanistan, but nowhere does it seem as entrenched as in the province of Uruzgan, where “bacha bereesh” — or boys without beards — widely become objects of lustful attraction for powerful police commanders.
The Taliban over nearly two years have used them to mount a wave of Trojan Horse attacks — at least six between January and April alone — that have killed hundreds of policemen, according to security and judicial officials in the province.
“The Taliban are sending boys — beautiful boys, handsome boys — to penetrate checkpoints and kill, drug and poison policemen,” said Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Lewanai, who was Uruzgan’s police chief until he was removed in a security reshuffle in April amid worsening violence.
“They have figured out the biggest weakness of police forces — bacha bazi,” he told AFP.
It is a brazen yet still impressive tactic to use a culture’s pedophilia against them. It also apparently works. The authorities have no idea how to deal with this, largely because the authorities are often the ones keeping boys as sex slaves. The article mentions an instance in which a checkpoint commander’s sex slave killed seven policemen, including the rapist commander, as they slept. He then let the Taliban forces in to ensure everyone was dead.
The Taliban denies using any boys as attackers, yet the evidence clearly shows they do it. And why would they not. Consider this:
Practically all of Uruzgan’s 370 local and national police checkpoints have bachas — some up to four — who are illegally recruited not just for sexual companionship but also to bear arms, multiple officials said.
Some policemen, they said, demand bachas like a perk of the job, refusing to join outposts where they are not available.
Horrifying abuse at checkpoints makes the boys, many unpaid and unregistered, hungry for revenge and easy prey for Taliban recruitment — often because there is no other escape from exploitative commanders.
Many who have tried to escape have been dragged back with trumped up charges of Taliban links, two senior provincial judges told AFP.
The boys have no reason to trust, let alone support, the authorities. This is perfect scenario for a terrorist group. Revenge is a high motivator, particularly in a society in which one’s status depreciates when one is raped. These boys are social outcasts. They receive little to no support from their community should they run away, and no concern from the Western forces who work with the officials who rape the boys. These boys have no where else to turn, so when the Taliban gives them an offer to get back at those who hurt them it makes sense that many boys would accept it.
Of course, the West is not concerned about protecting boys from rape. We are not even concerned that it is a culturally sanctioned activity that the people we work with and fund regularly engage in. No, our concern is that it might stem misogyny:
Bacha bazi, which the US State Department has called a “culturally sanctioned form of male rape”, peels away the masculine identity of boys in a society where the sexes are tightly segregated.
In conservative areas women are mostly invisible in public — and often unattainable due to steep bride prices. Bachas supplant the role of women, adopting a feminine gait and sometimes wearing makeup and bells on their feet.
That is nice argument that pales in comparison to the logic actually being applied by the community itself:
Many in Uruzgan see bacha bazi neither as paedophilia nor homosexuality, which is forbidden in Islam. If social norms had a pecking order, violating boys would be seen as far more ethical than violating women.
It is not ethical to violate anyone. However, one could reasonably argue that it is more unethical to violate a child than an adult. Yet here is a culture that apparently finds it more reprehensible to rape a woman than to rape 5-year-old boy. The notion that it is better to rape a boy than a woman dispels the claim that this is about misogyny.
Yet the West’s response this issue is tepid at best:
The practice has put the United States and its NATO allies, who have spent billions of dollars to build Afghan forces, in a precarious position.
The US Congress last year voiced concern over “predatory sexual behaviour by Afghan soldiers and police”, prompting watchdog agency SIGAR to launch an investigation that is still ongoing.
The head of a government-affiliated agency in Uruzgan showed AFP two letters from the attorney general in Kabul, one last year and another dated January, ordering a separate probe into sexual abuse and the illegal recruitment of child conscripts.
“We haven’t been able to visit even one checkpoint to investigate,” he said, speaking in hushed whispers in his own office.
“Do you think police commanders will leave us alive if we probe their crimes?”
That is so terrible. If only there were people who were armed and well-trained and capable of withstanding an attack by poorly armed, largely incompetent police commanders. Perhaps something like a military force. One that would be sent to an area to protect it from insurgents and maintain the peace in the region. If only the West had something similar that it could deploy who were already in the country and could have prevent the situation from escalating to this point before they left the country several years ago.
Wherever will we find such a force.