[20 August 2014] - Sexual abuse against children has been rising in Afghanistan according to a new report published Wednesday.
Dubbed in Farsi as "Bacha Bazi", literally meaning playing with boys, the ancient practice in some parts of the country involves using prepubescent and adolescent boys for entertainment and sexual activities.
Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission launched a national inquiry into the causes and negative consequences of child abuse, interviewing 2,000 people including abusers, victims, witnesses and elders.
The commission concluded that poverty was a major cause for the emergence and prevalence of Bacha Bazi, with two-thirds of victims saying they received money from the perpetrators.
The commission's chairwoman Seema Samar told journalists in Kabul that Bacha Bazi is a crime but not properly prevented by law.
“Most of the families don’t know that their children are raped, the perpetrators of Bacha Bazi take advantage of their poverty and entice the children against money,” she said.
The practice was previously outlawed under the Taliban regime, which sentenced perpetrators to death.
The most common form of exploitation was sleeping with the children but many were also forced to dance for or travel with abusers.
“We want the government to seriously fight the culture of impunity and to put more efforts to strengthen the rule of law so that the perpetrators of Bacha Bazi would be punished,” said Samar.