Segments in this Video

Revival of Bacha Bazi (05:39)


Najibullah Quraishi investigates an Afghan tradition of exploiting young boys. Though it is illegal, many DVDs of dancing boys are for sale on the street. The boys are often owned as sex slaves; the government is aware of the system, but does not intervene.

Dastager (04:53)

Quraishi meets with a former military commander and leader in the bacha bazi system in northern Afghanistan. Dastager explains that the tradition comes from Pakistan; he has taken part for 20 years and enjoys it. He has a family and owns several businesses, from which he has gained wealth and power.

Dance Performance (05:29)

Imam explains that his family is poor and dancing is his only way to earn money. He dances for a small group of men. There is an argument about who will take him home.

Training (04:07)

Gholom, a restaurant owner, introduces his boy, who is with him all time and dances for him. Dastager's new boy, Shafiq starts his first day of music and dance training which will take a year; Dastager says he gives Shafiq's family money and covers all his expenses.

Status Symbol for Military Leaders (03:55)

Bacha bazi is a symbol of power for men in northern Afghanistan; a senior commander with the Afghan Northern Alliance invites Quraishi to a gathering with other commanders. He explains that he had a boy before he was married, but never forced him into sex. Some men will keep a boy against their wife's will, but he states that he will not.

Preying on Young Boys (02:52)

A pimp searches for a certain boy in a public park, stating that he will take another boy if he finds one. Many boys are lured by promises of jobs and money and then trapped in the system.

Kite Running (01:55)

Competitive kite flying is an old tradition among boys in Afghanistan. Bacha bazi became common practice again when former warlords gained power. Women are strictly guarded in Afghani society, but boys are free, and owning a young boy is a source of honor.

Investigation and Police Attitude (04:54)

Owning a boy is illegal in Afghanistan, but the law is not enforced. Nazir Alimy investigated bacha bazi and submitted a report about its prevalence throughout Afghanistan. He explains that the people involved are often those in powerful positions; policemen attend a celebration where dancing boys perform.

Danger for Dancing Boys (04:14)

Imam, currently a dancer, plans to keep his own boys in the future. He trains Shafiq in dancing. Gholem's boy discusses his fears about his life, and the way people approach him for sex; owners often beat boys for misbehavior and sometimes kill them.

Murder in Bacha Bazi System (03:13)

Hafiz, a sought after dancing boy, was owned by a powerful man and murdered. Quraishi speaks with his brother, who reports that Hafiz's owner was a drug lord who mistreated him. He helped Hafiz escape but a policeman threatened and killed him; the officer was sent to prison but soon released.

Parent Attitude and Escape (05:29)

Quraishi tries to meet with Shafiq's father, but Dastager brings him to another man. Shafiq runs away during their time in the village, and Dastager turns against Quraishi. Aware of Dastager's powerful connections, Quraishi leaves the country.

Visit to United Nations (01:48)

Quraishi travels to New York to meet with Radhika Coomaraswamy, who has spoken out against the abuse of boys in Afghanistan. Coomaraswamy, who brings awareness to problems of children in conflict, explains that the subject of bacha bazi is taboo among officials.

Successful Escape (03:05)

Quraishi, concerned about Shafiq's safety, enlists someone to help him escape from Dastager and find a new home with his family. On a later visit, Quraishi learns that Shafiq is well and is hoping to study and help other boys. Coomaraswamy argues that the perpetrators of bacha bazi must be prosecuted for the practice to end.

Credits: The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan (00:39)

Credits: The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan

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The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan

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As the West pours billions of dollars into the fight against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, an ancient tradition (banned when the Taliban were in power) has re-emerged across the rest of the country. Hundreds of young boys living in extreme poverty are lured off the streets on the promise of a life away from destitution, unaware that their real fate is to be used for entertainment and sex. They are the "Bacha Bereesh", literally "beardless boys", chosen for their height, size, and beauty to sing and dance before an audience prior to being traded among the warlords and powerful men of Afghanistan. Bought and sold by their rich masters, most will suffer grotesquely: exhibited like a new horse or camel, beaten, and raped. All efforts by the authorities to eradicate the practice have failed largely because the authorities themselves are involved. Having gained remarkable access inside a sexual exploitation ring, award-winning Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi investigates this illegal practice, the consequences of which are shrouded by a focus on the war. The film exposes the lack of support from those in authority and explores possible responses to the plight of children in this conflict zone.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL154373

ISBN: 978-1-64347-957-6

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.