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But Ahmad Javed, not his real name , lounging on a chair near the public toilets, was there for business. The year-old was waiting for customers looking for sex at the shrine, revered as the burial place of Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad. Javed said that many of his sex worker friends also came to the mosque complex to find customers. Human rights activists say there is a flourishing trade in sex with young boys in the northern province of Balkh. Boys kept by powerful older men are made to dance at special parties, and often sexually abused afterwards.
Local strongmen often keep boys for sex, even competing with each other over who had the most handsome youths or the most talented dancers. He noted that the AIHRC had carried out a major national investigation into the issue in , speaking to nearly 2, people across 14 provinces of the country. The research revealed that poverty was a key factor in the spread of such abuse, as well as the lack of law enforcement and the fact that powerful people were able to act with impunity.
That was the experience of Younis, originally from the Maimanah district of the northern Faryab province. It was such a painful experience. I was too frightened and scared to able to talk about this experience with anyone. Just a few days after the assault, one of the youths who had sexually assaulted me came along with two other men and forced me to have sex with them again.
This time, they paid me a lot of money to keep silent. Younis is now employed in a mosque west of Mazar e-Sharif, far away from his hometown, calling the faithful to prayer five times a day and sweeping the compound. The worshippers know nothing about his past, he said, and he himself now bitterly regrets selling himself for sex.
What complicates the issue of sexual exploitation is that homosexual acts are utterly taboo in Afghan society, as well as being illegal under both Sharia and Afghan law.