The Taliban is exploiting the prevalent centuries-old pedophilic custom of bacha bazi, or “playing with boys,” to launch deadly attacks against police in southern Afghanistan, using the officers’ affinity for child sex slaves against them, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Lewanai, the former police chief of southern Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province, where the ancient custom is currently entrenched, told AFP that “the Taliban are sending boys — beautiful boys, handsome boys — to penetrate checkpoints and kill, drug and poison policemen.”
“They have figured out the biggest weakness of police forces — bacha bazi,” added Rogh, who served as chief until he was removed as part of a security reshuffle implemented in April amid worsening violence.
In Uruzgan, bacha bereesh, translated to “boys without beards,” are widely becoming “objects of lustful attraction for powerful police commanders,” notes AFP.
For nearly two years, Taliban jihadists have reportedly been using the boys as “honey traps,” the news agency learned.
Citing security and judicial officials in Uruzgan, AFP points that the Taliban militants have used the boys “to mount a wave of Trojan Horse attacks — at least six between January and April alone — that have killed hundreds of policemen.”
Late last year, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a watchdog agency appointed by Congress, noted that the pervasive practice was punishable by death under the Taliban 1996-2001 rule, adding that it was “resurrected” after the jihadist group was dethroned by the US military in 2001.
AFP acknowledged that the Taliban has denied using any underage boys for insider attacks against the Afghan forces.
“We have a special mujahideen brigade for such operations — all grown men with beards,” a Taliban spokesman reportedly said.
“The insurgents have long denied using children in combat, a claim repeatedly debunked by rights groups and the government,” points out AFP.
Various members of the U.S.-trained Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have been accused of engaging in the ancient custom.
“Predatory sexual behavior by Afghan soldiers and police could undermine US and Afghan public support for the ANDSF, and put our enormous investment at risk,” the American Congress is quoted as saying in December 2015.
The U.S. government has appropriated nearly $70 billion in American taxpayer funds to develop the ANDSF since the Afghanistan war started in October 2001.
“Under the [bacha bazi] practice, young boys, also known as ‘chai tea boys’ are sold to wealthy and powerful men for entertainment and illicit sex,” explains SIGAR. “As women are not allowed to dance in public, boys are made to dance and perform feminine gestures and acts. Boys have been raped, kidnapped, trafficked, and even sold by their parents for family prestige and money.”
SIGAR point outs that reports claiming that the practice is somehow “evolving into a nonviolent and consensual practice do not recognize that adolescent boys have not reached the age of consent.”
The federal watchdog agency has launched an investigation into the extent of the bacha bazi practice among U.S.-funded Afghan security forces that remains ongoing.
“Many in Uruzgan see bacha bazi neither as paedophilia nor homosexuality, which is forbidden in Islam,” points out AFP. “If social norms had a pecking order, violating boys would be seen as far more ethical than violating women.”
“The practice also continues to embolden the Taliban’s desire to reassert sharia law in Afghanistan and is fueling their insurgency,” it adds.