The heart breaking stories of help less, poor and vulnerable girls and women of Afghanistan are making headlines in print and electronic media across Europe these days. Afghan women continue to be victim of domestic and sexual violence by warlords, war criminals and private militia commanders. During the last three months, I have been receiving e-mails from some helpless Afghan women about their heart breaking stories of forced marriages. In their e-mails letters, they complain that rape is not considered as a serious crime in the country, if a woman reports a rape case to the police investigation began about her character.
One of the e-mails I received last week from Takhar province describes the story of two small girls and a woman raped by armed men on June 15, 2011. A six-year old girl was also among the victims. However, twenty days ago, a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped by five armed men in Kalifgan district. Afghan Human rights official says that last year; more than 2,765 cases of violence against women and girls were reported to the rights watchdog while Fawzia Amini, of the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs revealed that some 6,765 cases of violence against women and girls were registered in 2010.
The three decades long civil war, foreign interventions, poverty, unemployment, militarization, ignorance, knife and gun culture and political rivalries are factors making the women and children of Afghanistan vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution and playboy business. Afghanistan shares borders with Iran, Pakistan, China and Central Asian States and offers an environment for facilitating the business of women, children and drug trafficking.
Majority of Afghan children, women and girls trafficked in and outside the country are being sold in the local prostitution markets or in the hands of wealthy individuals, warlords and private militia commanders. UNICEF in its report revealed that fifty seven percent of Afghan marriages involve girls under sixteen. Insecurity, fear of kidnapping and rape has also prompted many families to force their young daughters into marriage.
In Northern Afghanistan, and in parts of Southern provinces, the same story is repeated. In various districts of Northern provinces, poor and poverty stricken girls and children are being kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Unemployed and poor young boys have also been subjected to trafficking for male prostitution, forced labor and playboy business. The traditions of child marriage have long been practiced in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's civil war left hundreds of thousands women widow and young children orphaned. As matrimonial life is much expensive across the country, specifically, in Paktika and Paktia provinces, the price for a young girl has been fixed more than three millions in Afghan currency.
Education for girls in these provinces is considered to be a great sin while sports and other hobbies are not allowed. Majority of Afghan girls became pregnant before they reach physical maturity because they don't know about the family law of the country. The Afghan Civil Law sets the minimum age for marriage at sixteen for girls and at eighteen for boys.
A heart-breaking story of an Afghan girl who was sold again and again in the hands of criminal mafia groups is indicative of the increasing violence against women. A young girl of poor parents, Benazir was twelve years old when she was forcefully married to an illiterate man. She remained with him for nine years and had four children. After nine years, her husband sold her to a human trafficker.
He kept her for a month, and sold to another man, two month later she was sold to a fourth man and after a year she was resold to a criminal. What happened to Benazir, nobody knows but Benazir is not the only victim of war criminals in her country, there are thousands of women and girls in Afghanistan whose lives are in danger. Cases of rape are in thousands, torture and domestic violence in Northern Afghanistan is being encouraged by mafia groups.
Recently, in Balkh Province, a teenage girl was kidnapped, tortured and raped by a warlord. This was a great shame for her family. Her parent decided to kill her but a local NGO saved her life. Brothels in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh, Laghman, Samangan and Kunduz provinces openly campaign for young girls. As they have strong support from the war criminal partners and corrupt officials in the police department, they freely run their businesses. Neither have they taught people about HIV virus nor about AIDs. Consequently, over one hundred thousand people are suffering from HIV virus in Afghanistan.
Another profitable business which has attracted thousand of criminal elements and warlords is playing with boys or "having sex with boys". This is an old and ugly tradition of Afghanistan. Orphan and poor children are picked from the streets or purchased from their parents who agree to sell them to those wealthy males who are fond of homosexuality. The parents are normally agreed on a "good price" for their child.
It seems neither illegal nor the police show any interest to intercept it. In Kandahar, and parts of Northern Afghanistan, Afghan married and unmarried men love boys roughly 15 to 20 years old. The price of a young and beautiful boy has been fixed up to 100,000 Afghanis. "Keeping a beautiful boy has become a custom in Kandahar now," a Kandahari homosexual once told me. When we study the poetry books in Kandahar or in any province in the North, we come across many poems about homosexuality.
Male prostitution has not been considered a harmful business in Afghanistan since decades. Though, keeping a playboy or Bacha Berish (a boy without beard) is not illegal but thousands wealthy people, businessmen and criminal gangs are involved with playboys across the country since long. After the US invasion in 2001, sex trafficking in the country becomes a profitable business. One of my police friends recently told me that more than 3000 families in Jawzjan, Mazar, Kunduz, Herat, Samangan and Faryab provinces have been involved in prostitution since last ten years. The main factor behind this business he told me is poverty and unemployment.