Afghanistan (Kabul): Punish the Abusers not the sexually assaulted children
In Afghanistan’s western Herat province, a court convicted a 13-year-old boy in an October 2012 case that only recently came to light, on moral crimes charges, and sentenced him to one year in juvenile detention after he was accused of having sex with two adult men in a public park.
A prosecutor involved in the case told Human Rights Watch that the boy was prosecuted because he said he had consented to engaging in sexual relations with several adult men. The decision in the case is under appeal. The authorities also arrested the men and charged them with moral crimes, but the outcome of their case is unknown.
Afghan law prohibits “pederasty,” a moral crime, commonly understood to mean sex between a man and a boy, and makes it a crime punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. There is no age of consent for sex under Afghan law. Children under age 19 convicted of crimes are entitled to reduced sentences under the 2005 Juvenile Code. United Nations bodies responsible for protecting the rights of children have said that all countries should have an age of consent sufficiently high to protect children.
When a man has sex with a 13-year-old child, the child is a victim of rape, not a criminal offender,” said Brad Adams, (Human Rights Watch, Asia Director). “The Afghan government should never have victimized this boy a second time, but instead should have released him immediately with urgent protection and assistance.”
“The Afghan government needs to also take urgent steps to protect children from sexual assault, including boys who are abused through the practice of bacha bazi,” Adams said. “Treating boys who have been raped as criminals undermines all government efforts to protect children from abuse.”
The Afghan government should take urgent steps to ensure that rape and sexual abuse of children leads to prosecution of the abusers – not of victims, said Human Rights Watch.
Reference: Human Rights Watch