06/08/2007versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

Minors victims of sexual abuses: a hidden yet widespread issue

Afghan childAbdul Kabir – not his real name – is 12 years old. He left his village in Uruzgan and went in Kandahar to work in a relative’s shop. But when he got there, the man did not want to employ him and shut the door in his face. Abdul went to the labour market and two men promised him a work as a bricklayer for one dollar a day. Instead of bringing him to the yard, they brought him in an abandoned building and abused him. Recovered from the trauma, Abdul decided to come back to his village. A taxi driver offered him a lift and, once in the car, he abused him too. He reached his house at last and tried to earn his living from the opium harvest in the field of a friend of his family. But there, among the poppies, another worker tried to abuse him. The boy reacted and wounded the man with the sickle used for harvesting the opium. The twelve-years-old boy has been turned in to the police and locked up in a detention centre. His abuser is free.

Afghan childrenAn hidden but widespread issue. This sad story, told to Irin News, is just one of the many cases of children sexual abuse: this is every day more common in a country which cannot escape from poverty and war. There are no statistics available on this issue, only estimates of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and Save the Children Sweden. According to their investigations, just in the city of Kandahar 14 cases of children sexual abuse have been reported recently, but at least the double remained undisclosed, due to the fear of the victims of being jailed or being beaten or killed by their parents. This because half of the cases happen in the child’s house by the parents or relatives.
Kandahar has a population of 500,000 people and 1,6% of the Afghan population lives there; if we consider that two in three cases is not reported to the police, in Afghanistan 2,500 children may have been be victim of sexual abuse recently.

Afghan childrenCultural, economic and legal reasons. There are many reasons for this worrying trend, the main being a cultural one. Pedophilia, often linked to homosexuality, is really common in the Afghan society, in which tradition and religion prevent nearly any contact among females and males, so that men try to seek an alternative among themselves and children. UNICEF campaigns are nearly useless. Moreover, illiteracy and poverty also are among the main causes: AIHRC stated that half of the abused children lives in condition of extreme poverty and they are forced to work by their parents, instead of going to school. In Afghanistan, poverty is the consequence of more than 25 years of a war which does not seem to stop. The last reason, a more concrete one, is that the abusers actually act with impunity. Under the Taliban rule, a person charged with sexual abuse on a minor was executed. In the current Afghan criminal code, this kind of crime is not even included and the few people charged are treated under article 427 on adultery, with up to 10 years of detention.
Enrico Piovesana

Luca Galassi

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