The bacha bazi tradition, which literally means “boy play” has deep roots in Afghan culture. For centuries, wealthy men have been buying orphans or boys from poor families, dressing them in women’s clothing, and paying them to sing and dance for entertainment. After the bacha party, the boy is auctioned off to the highest bidder or shared by several men for sex. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, they banned the practice, and it remains illegal today. But since the Taliban was ousted, the tradition has been revived and is growing.
Bacha bazi boys are usually teens, but many are as young as 11. Most of them come from very poor families or are orphans from the war. Boys are lured off the street or bought from family members by businessmen. Then, they are usually kept in a house with other boys, trained sing, dance, and play musical instruments. They are also introduced to the commercial sex industry, ususally by being raped by the men who train them or sold for sex out of the backseat of cars.