For years now, Americans everywhere have known about the sex trade in South Asia. It is often brought to our attention how young women are kidnapped or simply forced (by financial or societal issues) into the sex industry. We rally, petition and boycott in order to try to give these women a better life. However, one part of this huge issue seems to slip everyone's mind, and is hardly ever heard rolling off our tongues.
It is not only young women who are being victimized, but young boys as well.
In Afghanistan, Bacha Bazi is a common sexual practice. It is culturally accepted, especially by men in the Southern portion of the country, but is of course, no single area of the region is exempt from participation. Bacha Bazi targets young, Afghani boys, around the ages of 9-15. These boys are sent to parties or offices of esteemed men, dressed often like young girls, with bells on their ankles. They dance for these grown adults, are taken home by them, and often become owned by them. Yes, it is in fact culturally acceptable in Afghanistan for men to own young boys and sexually exploit them.
This often confuses and angers American Soldiers or even tourists who walk down streets and see grown men locking hands with children who are obviously not their sons. They cannot stick up for these boys, or speak out against the act because this form of pedophilia is absolutely acceptable for a man in power, and there is no protection for these boys today. In fact, these boys were believe it or not better protected under the rule of the Taliban, who had cracked down on the exploitation of these "dancing boys."
Many of the men participating in this practice blame it on women. They say that it is very expensive to marry and hold a wife in modern day Afghanistan. Not only that, but because of gender laws, they often cannot tote their wives around the way they do these young boys. Young boys are allowed just about anywhere an adult male is, so they can keep their dancer right by their sides.
As Americans, we cannot turn a blind eye to this. As we know from many of the world's issues, awareness is the first step to solving a problem. We cannot sit idly by while these children are being abused and raped by grown adults who should have better things to do than exploit anyone, let alone children. We have already brought so much awareness and help to the young girls suffering in the sex trade and industry, so is it not right for us to do the same young boys?