Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

The problem of Baccha Bazi still persists in Afghanistan, but the new laws introduced by the Afghanistan legislation aim to end this barbaric practice and free victims.

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Bacha Bazı (Image source: Hindustan Times)


Afghanistan, a country reputed for following a highly conservative form of Islam, has recently opened a can of worms with the rising awareness on rampant child sex slavery practised by the warlords and influential men in the middle eastern country.

‘Baccha Bazi’ or ‘Child play’ is a practice in which young (and often pre-pubescent) boys are made to dress like girls and dance erotically in front of middle-aged Afghan men (thus called ‘dancing boys’). The boys are referred to as ‘baccha bareesh’ whereas the men are called ‘Baccha Baz’. Often, the victims are brought into the profession through human trafficking syndicates or by kidnapping.

The practise of Baccha Bazi is a result of deep rooted pedophilia present in the Afghan society.

The victims of this pedophile-flesh trade syndicate are often considered as outcasts by the society. The Daily Mail says that even if the victims wanted to marry, it had to be done in a discreet fashion due to the social stigma against the Baccha Bareesh. On the other hand, Afghan warlords who participate in the Baccha Baz tradition are often considered to be powerful and host such parties to show off their power and wealth. (

Usually, the horror begins after the party ends, when the middle-aged guests of the warlord take the child to hotel rooms and mercilessly rape them.

Interestingly, homosexuality is believed to be a sin according to mainstream Islam. During the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, participating in Baccha Bazi was a crime punishable by death. However, after the fall of the Islamic terror outfit, there has been an increase of Baccha Bazi in the country.

The Afghan warlords argue that Baccha Bazi is a loophole to the Islamic practises since they merely ‘lust’ for the child and don’t exactly ‘love’ them, and are therefore not committing the Islamic sin of Homosexuality.

During the Afghanistan war, NATO forces were surprised to see middle-aged men going to parties with prepubescent boys hand-in-hand. However, they were asked to see the other way and not interfere in the local tradition.

The Daily Mail says that 2/5th of the Baccha Bareesh victims were between the ages 13 and 15. Several victims of the heinous act are said to have taken to drugs like heroin to cope with the repeated sexual abuse.

“Once I grow up, I will be an owner and I will have my own boys”, a then-17 year old Ahmad told Reuters in 2007. 

The boys who were brought into the system usually carried the tradition forward by becoming ‘masters’ and bringing another set of pre-pubescent boys into the tradition.

Until recently, when a law by the Afghanistan government banned Baccha Bazi, police officers also participated in the tradition and sat as audiences in the parties.

According to Dr. Sobhrang, who was then the woman commissioner of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission(AIHRC), the tradition puts victims under psychological trauma, who cannot cope and are forced into narcotics. Usually, a warlord has about 10 Baccha Bareeshs, who pass it on from one generation to the other.

The problem of Baccha Bazi still persists in Afghanistan, but the new laws introduced by the Afghanistan legislation aim to end this barbaric practice and free victims.

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