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In rare move, government launches investigations into systematic sexual abuse of children

Press release

Geneva/Kabul, 7 January 2020 – Two human rights organisations welcome the move by the AttorneyGeneral’s Office of Afghanistan to initiate investigations into the systematicand culturally widely accepted sexual abuse of boys by State officials,warlords and other powerful individuals. This follows evidence collected by twohuman rights defenders on hundreds of such cases in the Logar province, in theeastern part of the country.

“This is a remarkable development” said Sayed Hussain Anosh, Executive Director of the Civil Society andHuman Rights Network (CSHRN). “We very much welcome the investigation intothe widespread sexual abuse of children, a tabooed practice that has beenignored by the public and the government alike for decades.”

In November 2019, EhsanullahHamidi and Musa Mahmoudi, who worked for CSHRN, revealed the sexual abuse of hundreds of boys from sixdifferent schools in the Logar province, with teachers, headmasters and localofficials involved. Shortly afterwards, the two human rights defenders receivedthreats and were arbitrarily detained by the National Directorate of Securityfor several days. While kept incommunicado, the defenders were forced to makean apology on camera for their research being “incorrect” and“incomplete".

All of this however changed in December, when theAttorney General’s Office stated that it would investigate the cases, andsenior members of the office have now started to look into the evidencecollected by the two human rights defenders.

Afghanistan has a long history of sexual abuse of children by privateindividuals as well as State officials, amounting to torture and otherill-treatment. The practice of Bachabazi (meaning “dancing boys” or“boys play”) is a contemporary form of child sex slavery. The boys, who oftencome from impoverished families, dress as women and perform as dancers atprivate parties before being raped by their masters and others. Bachabazi andpractices similar to those revealed in Logar are widely accepted and notunderstood as homosexual behavior. Alleged perpetrators are governmental officialsor are connected to the security services and use their power to escapepunishment, while the boys are sometimes victims of “honour killings” at thehands of their own families. The UN Committee against Torture and the UNCommittee on the Rights of the Child have raised serious concerns about theinaction of the State and the impunity perpetrators have always enjoyed.

Investigations into those horrific practices are a first step intoaddressing Afghanistan’s culture of impunity for torture and ill-treatment ofchildren”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). “It is equally important that allthreats and harassment of human rights defenders, including those who revealedthe Logar abuse cases, are promptly and thoroughly investigated.

The CSHRN and the OMCT ask the Attorney General’s Office to implementits international human rights obligations and to enforce the Afghan Penal Codeprohibiting child abuse by carrying out prompt, impartial investigations thatlead to the punishment of perpetrators and provide for the rehabilitation andintegration of victims and their families.


The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is thelargest global NGO group actively standing up to torture and protecting humanrights defenders worldwide. It has more than 200 members in 90 countries. Itsinternational secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

TheCivil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN) is the main human rights networkin Afghanistan with more than 160 member organisations. Its secretariat isbased in Kabul.

For more information, please contact :

Nicole Buerli, Human Rights Adviser of the OMCT

Iolanda Jaquemet, Director of Communications of the OMCT,

+41 79 539 41 06

Hussain Sayed Anosh, Executive Director of CSHRN

+93 795402707

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