The Unbearable Banishment: Afghanistan

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I try to keep things light and airy around these parts. There are plenty of bloggers out there who do an excellent job of pointing out what a foul place this world is. I don't need to pile on. For the most part, I stay away from politics. I'm not a deep thinker and do not aspire to be one. I limit my posts to this city I love, the foibles of parenthood and an occasional theater or art review.

But those dirty, rotten mothers in Afghanistan got to me.

I recently read an article that left me on a high heat stewing in my juices. Have you guys ever heard the term bacha bazi? It translates to "boy play." Apparently, it's part of Afghan Army culture to take boys from their families, some as young as nine, dress them as girls and train them to dance for an audience of men. They are then auctioned off into prostitution to the highest bidder. Many of the customers are powerful military commanders and upper echelon members of the police force. They dress them in uniforms and are kept as sex slaves.

This custom is said to be over 300 years old. The former Governor of the Kandahar Province has been routinely seen at public events with teenage boys in tow, some of them in heavy makeup. Officials denied that they were bacha bazi.

This isn't the Taliban! These are supposed to be the good guys! In fact, not only does the Taliban condemn this practice, they intervened in a fight between two pedophile warlords over a coveted "dancing boy." This is who America has gone bankrupt fighting for. We've lost thousand of young soldiers defending this way of life.

The United Nations has stepped in and is trying to halt not only this atrocity, but also the practice of recruiting children into the police force. Good luck turning back 300 years of tradition. I'm sure that'll go over well.

Please spare me any comments about how I need to respect the way other people have lived for hundreds of years. They're animals. I do not understand some aspects of Mideastern culture. So many facets of it are depraved. The women are treated like a piece of property. You can still go to jail for being gay.

I'm officially against the war. Pull our troops out, cut 'em loose and let them slaughter each other for all I care. Barbarians.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll spin your point about comments and rather say that every culture has its animals. The West's sexualisation of young girls through baby beauty pagents isn't on the same scale, obviously, but it's also sick. The human trafficking business (aka the slave trade, sexual or otherwise) is alive and well around the world. And in South Africa, some men in some cultures rape tiny little children and even babies because they believe it cures AIDS. We're a fucked up species.

February 9, 2011 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

did my last comment come through? hmmm.

February 9, 2011 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does "still go to jail for being gay" mean? After all, it wasn't that long ago that prominent gay scientists in the West were hounded into suicides. Perhaps in another 50 years the Afghans would leave all this behind and progress to the stage where they can argue about whether water-boarding is really torture or not.

Many facets of life in the Middle East are probably depraved. But which part of the world does this not apply to?

In any case, it's not like there was ever any pretense that the Americans had gone to war for the sake of the Afghans. So why should the question of their barbarity matter now?

February 9, 2011 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Dolce: Point well taken. But there's something about the official sanctioning of it in Afghanistan that set me off.

Rohan: Both you and Dolce are correct. The Afghans have not cornered the market on depravity. And, believe it or not, the war was sold here in the U.S. as the "liberation" of the Afghan people. Such tripe.

February 9, 2011 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Sausage said...

This makes my stomach turn, I agree with everything you wrote the problem is that the word "Afghanistan" is saddled with politics and religion. The people who make the comments about other depravities elsewhere and in other times are not getting what you are trying to say. I believe the UB is making the point that this particular Afghan ritual is sick and fucking wrong, no matter how old the custom is. Get off his fucking back and take the blinders of your damn eyes. I don't believe for a minute that UB is making any type of political statement here, just making an observation of something that makes him sick.
Politics and religion ruining the world since day 1.

February 9, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

I agree with and applaud your first paragraph, which makes the rest of what you say all the more pungent and sickening.
You are the boss of Unbearable Banishment and I defend your right to say whatever is on your mind.

February 9, 2011 at 10:26 AM  
Anonymous annie said...

The U.S. govt could care less about the Afghan way of life. The ground is what matters and continued access to it. Women and children are objects to be owned and used according to the needs and whims of men in Afghanistan, and the U.S. govt will happily allow that to continue as long as they can get in and out of the Middle East through the country.

February 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

SF: This is why I don't write about things like this. I knew I was going to push buttons. Why do I feel bad that I pointed my finger at something and said, "This is bad and the people who do it are horrible?"

Pat: That's all true but I was raised in Ohio where we are taught not to say anything that might offend. Even if said thing is highly repugnant.

Annie: Although I agree with you, this post, at its core, has nothing to do with the U.S. Government or the war itself. I'm merely stating my anger at a foul practice that has, apparently, gone on unchecked for hundreds of years. What kind of society would allow this to continue?!

February 9, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Sausage said...

UB aka King of NYC.
It is the reason I like to blog about "BOOBS" I mean who doesn't like boobs..
good luck, I know where you were going with the post, it's the radicals on both sides of any argument that make for an uncomfortable dinner party.

February 9, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Stuff like this probably wouldn't happen if they uncovered their woman... I read a comment elsewhere on the internet that one young dancing boy said he'd had sex with boys/man but he liked girls better, except he couldn't see the girls but could see the other boys and could tell who was 'pretty'...

I completely agree with you, UB.

February 9, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

SF: Boobs. Why didn't I think of that? Who doesn't like boobs? Unlike child-rapists, who nobody admires.

Ponita: Why are religions so afraid of sexuality? I think repressed sexuality is the cause of a lot of grief on the planet. Certainly in that quadrant of the globe.

February 9, 2011 at 2:35 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

it's atrocious.

the world has many atrocities, and this is a bad one...

February 9, 2011 at 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Sid said...

"Please spare me any comments about how I need to respect the way other people have lived for hundreds of years." What??? Who in their right mind would defend child abuse by saying that it is a "way of life"???

February 10, 2011 at 4:19 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: It has all the horror of a Stephen King novel except it's real.

Sid: I believe there are those who would defend a *culture*. Nobody in their right mind would defend child abuse.

February 10, 2011 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

That’s not very respectful towards barbarians and animals.

February 10, 2011 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had not heard of this. It is absolutely chilling. And by the way, although I longed to get into the fray, I didn't need to because Sausage did it for me! Thank gods for Sausage!

February 10, 2011 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

kykn: I know. I'm a racist when it comes to those guys. Shame on me.

Leah: I was feeling pangs of regret about this post until Sausage came along and bailed me out. And now, you. So thanks. I didn't mean to offend any of the "good" Afghan people but they, as a society, are responsible for allowing this to go on.

February 10, 2011 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

I didn't know about this either. It's vile. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

February 10, 2011 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

I didn't know about this either, and as I read I remembered my son at nine years old. I never thought I'd agree on anything with the Taliban.

February 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger LẌ said...

Agree with you.

I am against our involvement in the bloodletting there. I see no justification for our troops being killed and maimed there.

February 10, 2011 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Scarlet: It's a pretty crappy thing to bring to everyone's attention but it pissed me off.

Eryl: Me, too. I pictured my 9-year old daughter being abused and flipped my lid. HOW COULD THEY?!

XL: Think about it; if we weren't there we wouldn't have this crushing debt. Such a bad, mad decision...

February 10, 2011 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger JZ said...

Suffering is the modus operandi of humankind. We're all animals...... just because I've not fondled little girls or buggered little boys does not mean that I have not brought equal suffering in other ways. In the west, we just do a better job of covering it up or create more convoluted means for fucking up somebody's personal sense of who they are and how they relate to their bodies and the world outside of them.....I honestly don't think any society has managed to unfetter themselves.....

Detachment, Nonviolence, Compassion....

February 11, 2011 at 7:24 AM  
Anonymous looby said...

Arguments that say that every culture is the same is a way of avoiding engaging with the specific issue. It's as you're somehow trying to justify murder in England by saying that it also occurs in France.

There's an excessive cultural reltivism at work sometimes which, because we're embarrassed at our own culture, makes us over-timid in condemning other cultures' cruelties.

February 13, 2011 at 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Just to let you know that I did read this, however I refrained from commenting in order to preserve my current zen state of tranquility.

That is all.

February 13, 2011 at 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup, please get the fuck out of afghanistan and let them do whatever it is they do. please get the fuck out of the rest of the world too, whatever isn't america.

February 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM  

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