Most Westerners have seen the photos of Afghani women, completely covered with their burkas, but probably have not considered what it is like to live in such a strict Islamic culture. Mohammad Daud, an Afghani mechanic, has rarely seen the faces of women. In fact, the 29 year old believes he may have seen only about 200 faces of women in his lifetime. Most of those were family members. The rest were glimpses he has caught of women without their face-shrouding burkas.
“Daud is unmarried and has sex only with men and boys. But he does not consider himself homosexual, at least not in the Western sense. ‘I like boys, but I like girls better,’ he says. ‘It’s just that we can’t see the women to see if they are beautiful. But we can see the boys, and so we can tell which of them is beautiful.’”
The segregation and treatment of women in the strict Islamic society makes them unapproachable. Women are portrayed as being unclean and therefore undesirable. As an example, a 2009 Human Terrain Team report by the U.S. Army titled “Pashtun Sexuality” recounted the team’s encounter with an Afghan man seeking advice on how his wife could become pregnant. He approached a U.S. Army medic stationed in a rural area of the Kandahar province. After the medic explained to him what was necessary, he replied, “How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.”
Men across Afghanistan and especially in the more heavily Pashtun areas of the country interpret the Islamic prohibition on homosexuality to mean they cannot “love” another man. They do not consider themselves homosexuals because they use men for sexual gratification. As a result there is a commonly accepted notion among Afghanistan’s Pashtun male population that “women are for children, and boys are for pleasure.”
PBS’s Frontline and the BBC’s The Documentary have both presented eye-opening reports about the “Dancing Boys of Afghanistan” also known as bacha bazi. The practice of bacha bazi or “boy play” is sexual companionship between powerful men and adolescent boys. The practice was banned under the Taliban, however after the fall of the Taliban it has become more rampant. Young boys from poor families are groomed for sexual relationships with older men. In some cases poor families will provide a son to a warlord or government official in order to gain family prestige and monetary compensation.
These boys often are made to dress in women’s clothing, wear makeup and dance for parties of men. Oftentimes following the parties the boys are then expected to engage in sexual acts with the men that attended the party.
The practice is against the law in Afghanistan, however some estimates say that as many as 50% of men in the Pashtun areas of the nation participate in the practice. This means a significant portion of government, police and military officials also engage in the practice.
Daud claims to have had relations with different boys for varying lengths of time ranging from one month to six years. He does not believe his relationships with the boys are bad for them, because he buys them things. He still contends he would eventually like to marry a woman, but he explains, “I’m just waiting to see her.”
Many of those who purchase a boy were actually abused when they were young and are now continuing the cycle. Pray for the international community – that this will be exposed and there will be a public outcry for the abuse of these young boys.
The demeaning treatment of women and the idea that women are unclean contributes to the abuse of these young boys. Pray that eyes will be opened, restrictions on women’s dress will be lightened and men will be convicted by the Lord that they are abusing these children.
Ask God to intervene, raise awareness and bring this cycle of abuse to an end. II Cor. 3:17 declares . . .”where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. Proclaim that the victory of Christ is being released in the lives of these men and boys, delivering them from the deception of this evil practice. Declare that the love of Christ is bringing them to freedom from this generational bondage in their culture.