Did you get a chance to watch PBS's Frontline expose, "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan: Inside the World of Bacha Bazi" when it aired last week? It took me a few days to get around to viewing it and it's well worth the hour.
In Afghanistan today, in the midst of war and endemic poverty, an ancient tradition--banned when the Taliban were in power--has re-emerged across the country. It's called Bacha Bazi, translated literally as "boy play." Hundreds of boys, some as young as eleven, street orphans or boys bought from poor families by former warlords and powerful businessmen, are dressed in woman's clothes, taught to sing and dance for the entertainment of male audiences, and then sold to the highest bidder or traded among the men for sex. With remarkable access inside a Bacha Bazi ring operating in Northern Afghanistan, Najibullah Quraishi, an Afghan journalist, investigates this practice, still illegal under Afghan law, talking with the boys, their families, and their masters, exposing the sexual abuse and even murders of the boys, and documenting how Afghan authorities responsible for stopping these crimes are sometimes themselves complicit in the practice.
While the world has focused on both the Boy Scout of America and the Catholic Church's cover ups of sexual abuse by supposedly moral leaders, what does it say that we've almost totally ignored the rape and enslavement of these boys? And what does it mean that 99% of the perpetrators don't consider themselves "gay" and the same percentage of the boys are forced into a "transgender" role?
The entire episode is after the jump.