Without context, the term "dancing boys" might appear to be
innocent in nature, such as a reference to a youth dance troupe. Even the Afghani
term "bacha bazi," which roughly translates as "boy play," doesn't fully convey
the human rights abuses inflicted upon such children.
Dancing boys are in fact very young males who have been sold
or coerced into sexual slavery by Afghani men who wield wealth and/or military
power to procure them. The practice has also become more widespread among men
who claim they cannot afford to marry a woman. In Najibullah Quraishi's 2010
film, the "Dancing
Boys of Aghanistan," this Afghani pedophile practice was exposed to the
This is not alternative orientation issue. It is a human
rights issue and these boys deserve the protection of the rule of law. In many
countries, these acts would be prosecuted as child rape.
Yet in Afghanistan the practice is actively promoted as
acceptable. In fact, U.S. military personnel have been trained to look the
other way rather than interfere with this "cultural practice."
It's also noteworthy that these dancing boys are encouraged
by their predators to act in ways that would be severely punished under Sharia
law if an Afghani female of any age acted the same way.
Among the Faustian bargains that have been made fighting the
"War on Terror," the tacit endorsement of the Afghani dancing boy "tradition"
is one of the worst because it promotes human rights violations against
innocent children and defines child sex trafficking as a social norm in the
process. One wonders how many children would have been spared this fate if the
U.S. and its allies insisted that the "cultural practice" be prosecuted as a
crime instead of abetting it through acts of omission in the name of tolerance. On the other hand, the persistence of such
moral depravity suggests that the Afghani government and Afghani society are
still a long way away from having developed a strong sense of respect for human
rights and the rule of law.
Left to their own devices, as soon they will be, one can
only fear for the dancing boys and the women of Afghanistan, and for what new
oppressions will be foisted on those people of Afghanistan who are among the
powerless and lowly in society. It also
begs the question of what kind of ally Afghanistan will be in the war on terror
in future, and what kind of participant it will be in world affairs.
'Dancing Boys' Exploitation on the Rise, PBS.org (Apr. 5, 2012)
'dancing boys': Behind the story, Washington Post (Apr. 5, 2012)
exploitation of Afghanistan's 'dancing boys', Washington Post (Apr. 4,
sees rise in 'dancing boys' exploitation, Washington Post (Apr. 4 2012)
Pedophilia: A way of life, say U.S. soldiers and journalists, Examiner.com
(Jan. 19, 2012)
'culturally accepted in south Afghanistan', UK Telegraph (Jan. 13, 2012)