AFP, February 10, 2013
13-year-old Boy jailed in Afghanistan for having sex with two men—HRW
RW said “moral crimes” charges, which include all sexual relations outside of marriage, have been used to punish the victim of a criminal offense
HERAT, Afghanistan—Rights campaigners voiced outrage on Sunday over a 13-year-old Afghan boy jailed for having sex with two adult men, urging the Western-backed Kabul government to release him and punish his abusers.
The boy, accused of having sex with two men in a public park in the western province of Herat, was sentenced to one year in juvenile detention, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.
Afghan law bans “pederasty,” sex between a boy and a man, but HRW said “moral crimes” charges, which include all sexual relations outside of marriage, have been used to punish the victim of a criminal offense.
Human Rights Watch, Feb. 10, 2013: In spite of Afghanistan’s strict prohibitions on sex outside of marriage, the United Nations and other organizations have documented numerous instances of sexual abuse of boys through a practice known as “bacha bazi.” The phrase, which translates as “boy play,” refers to boys who work as dancers, performing at parties attended by men, and typically living under the protection of a military commander or other patron. Afghan culture typically prohibits women or girls from dancing for a male audience. While their role as entertainers can be innocent, in many instances these boys are also the victims of sexual assault and abuse.
“When a man has sex with a 13-year-old child, the child is a victim of rape, not a criminal offender,” Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said in a statement.
“The Afghan government should never have victimized this boy a second time, but instead should have released him immediately with urgent protection and assistance.”
The statement said the two men involved in the incident, which took place in September but only recently came to light, were also arrested and charged but their case was unknown.
Justice officials in Herat were unable to give details of the case when contacted by AFP.
The rights group quoted an Afghan prosecutor involved in the case as saying that the boy was convicted “because he said he had consented to engaging in sexual relations with several adult men.”
There is no age of consent for sex under Afghan law, HRW added.
HRW also slammed the practice of “bacha bazi,” or “boy play,” in which boys or male teenagers dressed like girls dance in parties attended by men and are frequently abused afterwards.
The culture is strictly banned under Afghan laws but is known to be practiced often by powerful militia commanders in much of the country.
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