When the former mujahideen commanders ascended to power in 2001 after the Taliban's ouster, they brought with them a rekindled culture of bacha bazi.
As rule of law mechanisms and general order returned to the Afghan countryside, bacha bazi became a normalized, structured practice in many areas.The rampant paedophilia has a number of far-reaching detrimental consequences on Afghanistan's development into a functional nation.The first — and most obvious — consequence of bacha bazi is the irreparable abuse inflicted on its thousands of victims.Demeaning and damaging, the widespread subculture of paedophilia in Afghanistan constitutes one of the most egregious ongoing violations of human rights in the world.The adolescent boys who are groomed for sexual relationships with older men are bought — or, in some instances, kidnapped — from their families and thrust into a world which strips them of their masculine identity.While the Afghan environment has grown more conducive to improving women's social statuses, the continued normalization of bacha bazi will perpetuate the traditional view of women as second-class citizens — household fixtures meant for child-rearing and menial labor, and undeserving of male attraction and affection.
The third unfortunate consequence of bacha bazi is its detrimental bearing on the perpetual state of conflict in Afghanistan, especially in the southern Pashtun-dominated countryside.
These boys are often made to dress as females, wear makeup, and dance for parties of men.
They are expected to engage in sexual acts with much older suitors, often remaining a man's or group's sexual underling for a protracted period.
Since its post-2001 revival, bacha bazi has evolved, and its practice varies across Afghanistan.
According to military experts I talked to in Afghanistan, the lawlessness that followed the deposing of the Taliban's in rural Pashtunistan and northern Afghanistan gave rise to violent expressions of paedophilia.
While the Afghan government has been able to address some of these issues since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, archaic social traditions and deep-seated gender norms have kept much of rural Afghanistan in a medieval state of purgatory.