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Afghanistan: Kingdom of pedophiles?

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mdg
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« on: September 02, 2010, 16:52:11 PM »

Via SFGate

Quote
Western forces fighting in southern Afghanistan had a problem. Too often, soldiers on patrol passed an older man walking hand-in-hand with a pretty young boy. Their behavior suggested he was not the boy's father. Then, British soldiers found that young Afghan men were actually trying to "touch and fondle them," military investigator AnnaMaria Cardinalli told me. "The soldiers didn't understand."


All of this was so disconcerting that the Defense Department hired Cardinalli, a social scientist, to examine this mystery. Her report, "Pashtun Sexuality," startled not even one Afghan. But Western forces were shocked - and repulsed.

For centuries, Afghan men have taken boys, roughly 9 to 15 years old, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Pashtun tribal members in Kandahar and other southern towns are bacha baz, the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means "boy player." The men like to boast about it.

"Having a boy has become a custom for us," Enayatullah, a 42-year-old in Baghlan province, told a Reuters reporter. "Whoever wants to show off should have a boy."

Baghlan province is in the northeast, but Afghans say pedophilia is most prevalent among Pashtun men in the south. The Pashtun are Afghanistan's most important tribe. For centuries, the nation's leaders have been Pashtun.

President Hamid Karzai is Pashtun, from a village near Kandahar, and he has six brothers. So the natural question arises: Has anyone in the Karzai family been bacha baz? Two Afghans with close connections to the Karzai family told me they know that at least one family member and perhaps two were bacha baz. Afraid of retribution, both declined to be identified and would not be more specific for publication.

As for Karzai, an American who worked in and around his palace in an official capacity for many months told me that homosexual behavior "was rampant" among "soldiers and guys on the security detail. They talked about boys all the time."

He added, "I didn't see Karzai with anyone. He was in his palace most of the time." He, too, declined to be identified.

In Kandahar, population about 500,000, and other towns, dance parties are a popular, often weekly, pastime. Young boys dress up as girls, wearing makeup and bells on their feet, and dance for a dozen or more leering middle-aged men who throw money at them and then take them home. A recent State Department report called "dancing boys" a "widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape."

So, why are American and NATO forces fighting and dying to defend tens of thousands of proud pedophiles, certainly more per capita than any other place on Earth? And how did Afghanistan become the pedophilia capital of Asia?

Sociologists and anthropologists say the problem results from perverse interpretation of Islamic law. Women are simply unapproachable. Afghan men cannot talk to an unrelated woman until after proposing marriage. Before then, they can't even look at a woman, except perhaps her feet. Otherwise she is covered, head to ankle.

"How can you fall in love if you can't see her face," 29-year-old Mohammed Daud told reporters. "We can see the boys, so we can tell which are beautiful."

Even after marriage, many men keep their boys, suggesting a loveless life at home. A favored Afghan expression goes: "Women are for children, boys are for pleasure." Fundamentalist imams, exaggerating a biblical passage on menstruation, teach that women are "unclean" and therefore distasteful. One married man even asked Cardinalli's team "how his wife could become pregnant," her report said. When that was explained, he "reacted with disgust" and asked, "How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean?"

That helps explain why women are hidden away - and stoned to death if they are perceived to have misbehaved. Islamic law also forbids homosexuality. But the pedophiles explain that away. It's not homosexuality, they aver, because they aren't in love with their boys.

Addressing the loathsome mistreatment of Afghan women remains a primary goal for coalition governments, as it should be.

But what about the boys, thousands upon thousands of little boys who are victims of serial rape over many years, destroying their lives - and Afghan society.

"There's no issue more horrifying and more deserving of our attention than this," Cardinalli said. "I'm continually haunted by what I saw."

As one boy, in tow of a man he called "my lord," told the Reuters reporter: "Once I grow up, I will be an owner, and I will have my own boys."

© 2010 Joel Brinkley
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 17:10:14 PM »

Words cannot describe how fucked this world is.
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Brian
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 17:29:00 PM »

Seeing we're skeptics, the question does arise: In terms of whose value system are we judging these activities? I cannot for one millisecond condone it so don't misunderstand me, but if this is socially acceptable in Afghanistan and even a source of status  WTF!! who are we (and American Social Scientists) to judge and by whose standards and morals do we judge? If the same study had been done by Afghan soc sc's would they also have reached the same conclusion?...I know, I know if we take my argument further, is the treatment of women by Islamists therefore also justified???  Undecided or child labour in China etc etc etc... as BM says the world is fucked! Just my penny's worth.
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Lilli
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2010, 07:27:43 AM »

The issue, as I see it, is not so much that the western world has/doesn't have the right to morally judge the traditional practices of other cultures, in theory. I do think that there is an obligation to protect the rights of these children, who cannot fend for themselves and are too young to make their own moral judgements.
I agree with BoogieMonster on this one - fucked completely.
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Faerie
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2010, 07:34:46 AM »

I'm gobsmacked, but it does make sense, any environment sans the opposite sex for a prolonged time creates scenarios where same-sex relationships develop, its rife in jails all over the world, what is a bit concerning is that the children grow up with this as acceptable behaviour and most likely carry this on for generations to come.

This is something to chew on for me, thanks for the post.
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cyghost
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2010, 08:44:57 AM »

Seeing we're skeptics, the question does arise: In terms of whose value system are we judging these activities? I cannot for one millisecond condone it so don't misunderstand me, but if this is socially acceptable in Afghanistan and even a source of status  WTF!! who are we (and American Social Scientists) to judge and by whose standards and morals do we judge?
By the standards that children don't really understand and as such have no chance to say no or yes. We protect children beacuse of this.

At 9 to 15 as a norm it is highly doubtful whether they can make informed decisions.
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Peter Grant
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2010, 12:45:32 PM »

This is a fucked up situation and religion is entirely to blame. Any cultural relativist who tries to defend this behaviour is just as fucked up. There are many different ways in which a society might flourish, but this is obviously not one of them.
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Hermes
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2010, 15:41:49 PM »


Seeing we're skeptics, the question does arise: In terms of whose value system are we judging these activities? I cannot for one millisecond condone it so don't misunderstand me, but if this is socially acceptable in Afghanistan and even a source of status  WTF!! who are we (and American Social Scientists) to judge and by whose standards and morals do we judge? If the same study had been done by Afghan soc sc's would they also have reached the same conclusion?...I know, I know if we take my argument further, is the treatment of women by Islamists therefore also justified???  Undecided or child labour in China etc etc etc... as BM says the world is fucked! Just my penny's worth.

Brian, although you qualify your response by pointing out that you abhor paedophilic behaviour, you seem to doubt the foundations on which we denounce it.   Your argument contains a malodour of cultural relativism that implies the absence of generally acceptable values.   The ethical construct by which we live is not arbitrary, but based on certain nonnegotiable premises.   These include the welfare of society, the avoidance of cruelty or exploitation and the preservation of nature.   The exploitation of children is particularly abominable and there is nothing relative about it.   Values may vary somewhat from one society to the next, but there are practices that can never be justified, irrespective of cultural considerations.   Asking "by whose standards and morals do we judge?" suggests that we may have no right to judge.   Not only have we the right, but the obligation to do so.   The welfare of those children is paramount to Afghan cultural considerations.
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Brian
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2010, 16:11:40 PM »


Seeing we're skeptics, the question does arise: In terms of whose value system are we judging these activities? I cannot for one millisecond condone it so don't misunderstand me, but if this is socially acceptable in Afghanistan and even a source of status  WTF!! who are we (and American Social Scientists) to judge and by whose standards and morals do we judge? If the same study had been done by Afghan soc sc's would they also have reached the same conclusion?...I know, I know if we take my argument further, is the treatment of women by Islamists therefore also justified???  Undecided or child labour in China etc etc etc... as BM says the world is fucked! Just my penny's worth.

Brian, although you qualify your response by pointing out that you abhor paedophilic behaviour, you seem to doubt the foundations on which we denounce it.   Your argument contains a malodour of cultural relativism that implies the absence of generally acceptable values.   The ethical construct by which we live is not arbitrary, but based on certain nonnegotiable premises.   These include the welfare of society, the avoidance of cruelty or exploitation and the preservation of nature.   The exploitation of children is particularly abominable and there is nothing relative about it.   Values may vary somewhat from one society to the next, but there are practices that can never be justified, irrespective of cultural considerations.   Asking "by whose standards and morals do we judge?" suggests that we may have no right to judge.   Not only have we the right, but the obligation to do so.   The welfare of those children is paramount to Afghan cultural considerations.
I agree with your argument. However, when you've been in a variety of countries interacting with a multitude of cultures as I have as a consultant, you are often confronted by traditions and value systems which are not only alien but also unacceptable in terms of your own. The dilemma as an outsider with considerable sapiental power, is what to do about it. Many of these traditions stem from mysticism, religions and plain witchcraft. I've been castigated for example in a pre-dominantly Muslim country for expressing myself in favour of women's rights including the right to education and generating an income. My question as quoted, stems from a practical perspective when you deal with these issues where the lines are seldom as clear-cut as the issue of child abuse. A colleague of mine (female professor) was confronted in another Muslim country for trying to educate men! So see my question not as a reflection of my values, but rather as an honest question in a forum where I respect the views of people such as yourself.
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Peter Grant
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 17:24:44 PM »

I'm actually surprised that so few have heard of this before. The article makes out like it's some big mystery, Afghanistan isn't the only place where this happens.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 18:03:18 PM »

Peter you are quite correct - didn't the ancient Greeks have a similar system going - granted way back in the days of the mythical Ganymede?

The most disturbing is how apparently blase the Afghan kids are about all of this. 

Mintaka
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Tweefo
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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 18:10:54 PM »

How good is this article? I know Afghanistan is remote but this is only coming to light now? I would like another independent view on this.
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Hermes
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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 18:40:33 PM »

The San Francisco Chronicle is a respectable mainstream newspaper.   This is not to say that the article is unbiased, especially considering the mood in the US.   My guess would be that there is truth in it, but that it might be somewhat blown up.
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Brian
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« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 18:55:14 PM »

Just to reiterate: I've seen similar incidents in African countries which have nothing to do with 'being isolated from women' but where paedophilia is not seen as an issue at all. A Zulu woman once told me that in their view of us as 'white males' they know that we have sex with our daughters from a very young age...obviously this is a very different issue as it must be seen against a background of deep divides, hatred, fear even etc etc. In a country not far from us the adult and married women used to 'induct' young boys to sex  and vice versa. Much of this has disappeared over the years through assimilation and education, but the differences in values are often vast. In Ethiopia I have heard of a tribe in which the women are given a hiding by their husbands if they show any pleasure during sex...and then you have genital mutilation, our own circumcision rites...the list goes on and on...
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Peter Grant
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« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2010, 18:58:30 PM »

Peter you are quite correct - didn't the ancient Greeks have a similar system going - granted way back in the days of the mythical Ganymede?

The most disturbing is how apparently blase the Afghan kids are about all of this.  

Mintaka

The Greeks were somewhat different if I remember correctly, probably more young men than boys. Regardless though, that was then, this is now. To the best of my knowledge, this behaviour is quite common in many Islamic countries. Woman just aren't seen as sexually attractive so they redirect their urges at little boys. I have no problem with homosexuality as resulting from genetic predisposition, but pedophilia is just wrong whatever form it takes.
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