From 1996 to 2001 the Taliban, a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group controlled and oppressed the Afghanistan population. During its five years of power, the Taliban focused their terror campaign on women. The Taliban often argued that the brutal restrictions they placed on women were actually a way of protecting them. Yet once the Taliban fell, the dirty secrets of the women they sold for sex and traded as awards for jobs well done slowly leaked to the press. The sexual hypocrisy of the Taliban is astounding. The same government that forced women to stay inside, cover their heads and leave the house only with the supervision of a male relative–for their safety–was also involved with forcing women into prostitution.
While the Taliban was in control, they played both sides of the issues, publicly stoning women to death for prostitution while privately abducting women from villages to serve as sex slaves to the soldiers. Long after the Taliban fell from power, the organization was still asking parents of the grown up daughters to marry them to militants or face dire consequences. This was a slightly gentler approach from the past when the Taliban would simply abduct the young women and forced them to marry the soldiers. In a country where the purity of women is sacred and rape brings shame upon a family, the few women who survive their ordeal are rarely able to go back to their families or old lives.
Under Taliban control, an estimated 6,000 female and 4,000 male sex workers worked in just the city of Kabul, not to mention the rest of the country. The number of male sex workers may seem high, but Afghanistan has a long history of abusing young boys, called Bacha Bazi or dancing boys. Underage boys are dressed up as girls and sold to the highest bidder to keep as concubines. Once the Taliban came into power, the number of Bacha Bazi grew as did the Taliban appetite for them. The commanders of the Talibanwere kidnapping teenage boys for the purpose of sexual gratification at militant camps throughout regional Afghanistan. After the boys were sexually humiliated, they were then sent to partake in terrorist attacks throughout the country. The majority of victims were born into dire poverty and either sold by their parents who couldn’t afford to raise them or abducted by the Taliban.
The decades of war in Afghanistan has left generations of uneducated, impoverished and unemployed Afghans. Families left without work and unable to provide for their children are forced to sell them and those unable to find legitimate work, procure children for the black market. During the chaos of a village bombing, young girls are stolen and sold to pimps. Some are trafficked into Pakistan but most spend their lives being sold to multiple pimps throughout Afghanistan. After years of instability under the Taliban rule and almost a decade of war, the people of Afghanistan are faced with a country lacking the infrastructure to protect the young women and men from sex trafficking.