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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025              


Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict.

Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan Government's inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan's living standards from its current level, among the lowest in the world.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Afghanistan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Sex Trade Thrives in Afghanistan

Associated Press AP, Kabul, 6/14/2008

[accessed 27 March 2011]

The girl was 11 when she was molested by a man with no legs. The man paid her $5. And that was how she started selling sex.

The girl is now 13, and her features have just sharpened into striking beauty. She speaks four languages — the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, the Urdu she picked up as a refugee in Pakistan and the English she learned in a $2.40-a-month course she pays for herself in Kabul. She is the breadwinner in her family of 10.  She does not know what a condom is. She has not heard of AIDS.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 21 August 2020]

CHILD ABUSE - Police reportedly beat and sexually abused children. Children who sought police assistance for abuse also reported being further harassed and abused by law enforcement officials, particularly in bacha bazi cases, deterring victims from reporting their claims. NGOs reported a predominantly punitive and retributive approach to juvenile justice throughout the country. Although it is against the law, corporal punishment in schools, rehabilitation centers, and other public institutions remained common.

In November human rights defenders exposed the sexual abuse of at least 165 schoolboys from six high schools in Logar Province, alleging that teachers, headmasters, and local authorities were implicated in the abuse. Teachers would often film videos of rapes and threaten to post videos if victims spoke out. The release of videos and exposure of the scandal led to at least five honor killings of the victims. Two human rights defenders were subsequently placed in NDS detention after exposing the allegations, forced to apologize for their reporting, and continued to face threats after their release. Several officials rejected the allegations. The AGO investigation into the scandal reportedly suffered from a lack of public and political support, insufficient investigation time, and faulty investigation mechanisms, including public interviews.

There were reports some members of the military and progovernment groups sexually abused and exploited young girls and boys. During the first six months of the year, UNAMA documented credible reports of four cases of sexual violence involving five children carried out by parties to the armed conflict. Two girls were raped by antigovernment elements, and three boys were raped, used for bacha bazi, or both by the ALP and ANP. According to media and NGO reports, many of these cases went unreported or were referred to traditional mediation, which often allowed perpetrators to reoffend.

UNICEF - Afghanistan

[accessed 27 March 2011]

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 22 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 102

Children are subject to commercial sexual exploitation throughout the country. A remaining concern is the practice of bacha bazi, or boy play, in which men–including police commanders, tribal leaders, warlords, and mafia heads–force boys to provide social and sexual entertainment. (46; 51; 52) In many cases, these boys are dressed in female clothing, used as dancers at parties and ceremonies, and sexually exploited. (46) According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the practice exists in all provinces of the country. (53) Research has found specific cases in the provinces of Baghlan, Balkh, Faryab, Helmand, Konduz, Takhar, and Uruzgan. (49; 52; 46) A national inquiry conducted in 2014 found that most boys were between the ages of 13 and 16, and that 60 percent of them had been subjected to physical violence, confinement, and threats of death. (46) Some government officials, including members of the Afghan National Police, the Afghan Local Police, and the Afghan Border Police, exploit boysfor bacha bazi as well as for work as tea servers or cooks in police camps. (54; 46; 48; 49; 51; 53; 44; 55) A few such cases took place and were documented in 2017. (4; 56; 57) Some local police commanders abduct boys and use them for bacha bazi. (48; 49)

Afghan children are trafficked both domestically and internationally. Afghan boys are used for forced labor in agriculture and construction abroad, and girls tend to be used for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work in destination countries, primarily Iran and Pakistan. (44) Children were trafficked to settle their family’s debt, including in the production of bricks and illicit drugs. (2; 8; 44) Some Afghan girls are subjected to forced marriage in exchange for money for their families. (56) Reports indicate that girls from Iran, Pakistan, and China are trafficked to Afghanistan for commercial sexual exploitation. (56) Some child laborers are subjected to sexual violence. (20; 35) According to an international organization, there is an emerging trend of forced recruitment of trafficked children into non-state armed groups. (32).

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Afghanistan is a country of origin and transit for children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced marriage, labor, domestic servitude, slavery, crime, and the removal of body organs. Since early 2003, there have been increasing reports of children reported as missing throughout the country. It is also reported that impoverished Afghan families have sold their children into forced sexual exploitation, marriage, and labor.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action [DOC]

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – AFGHANISTANAfghanistan has conducted surveys in four camps in Pakistan, and discovered that many children have become involved in prostitution. Many children have ended up on the streets where they often lack basic education and live in extreme poverty. Additionally, many of them are in deep depression and addicted to opium. Save the Environment - Afghanistan is therefore alerting attention towards these children who are all highly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation. Also within the borders of Afghanistan, children as young as eight and nine have been reported to be prostituted in Taliban-controlled areas.

Report Documents Poverty And Social Misery In Afghanistan

Joanne Laurier, World Socialist Web Site, 2 March 2005

[accessed 27 March 2011]

Children have been the primary victims of more than two decades of conflict. Of the estimated 1.5 million people killed during this period, some 300,000 were children. Abduction and trafficking in children is now a rapidly growing threat, with the most common forms of trafficking being child prostitution, forced labor, slavery, servitude and the removal of body organs.

Afghanistan: Report

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict - Country Reports

[accessed 27 March 2011]

TRAFFICKING AND EXPLOITATION - Female trafficking for sexual purposes is a thriving business in Afghanistan. Girls are purchased from within Afghanistan and trafficked through Pakistan for destinations in the Gulf, Iran, and elsewhere to be wives or prostitutes. According to reports from the field, young boys are also trafficked through channels leading to the Gulf area. Some children and adolescents remain in Pakistan, where distinct brothels exist for Afghans. The children most likely to be trafficked for sexual purposes are girls, those from tribal groups and ethnic minorities, stateless persons and refugees, and those living in poverty. Other incidents of trafficking of children for sexual purposes have been reported.




The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 18 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 31 March 2020]

CHILDREN - According to a recent UNHCR report, the practice of using young boys as objects of pleasure by commanders, tribal leaders, and others was more than a rare occurrence. Such relations were often coercive and opportunistic in that more influential, older men were taking advantage of the poor economic situation of some families and young males, leaving them with little choice. There were also a few documented cases of abduction of young boys for sexual exploitation by commanders. The MOI recorded at least 130 cases of rape of young boys during the year. There were no child labor laws or other legislation to protect child abuse victims.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – There were continued reports of poor families promising young girls in marriage to satisfy family debts. There were a number of reports that children, particularly from the south and southeast, were trafficked to Pakistan to work in factories, or internally for commercial sexual exploitation in brothels.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 31 March 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Trafficking victims, especially those trafficked for sexual exploitation, faced societal discrimination, particularly in their home villages, and the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

At year's end according to the AIHRC, authorities repatriated 317 children from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Zambia, and Oman. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, with the assistance of UNICEF, set up a transit center to assist with these returns, and other agencies such as the AIHRC helped with the children's reunification and reintegration.

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