The Taleban gone, the tradition of sodomy returns to Kandahar. Bearded men, accompanied by their “ashna” (beloved boys) are again openly visible on the streets.
The Taleban had forbidden the Pashtun tradition of “ashna”, the grooming of favourite boys for sexual pleasure. In one of his first acts in 1994, Mullah Omar freed a boy who was being fought over by two Mujaheddin warlords in Kandahar, who had started firing artillery rounds at each other’s positions, destroying part of the city. Called to mediate in other such affairs, the Taleban movement quickly implanted itself in Kandahari society.
The Taleban quickly applied their medieval rules to those caught practising sodomy: they were forced to stand under a stone wall, which was felled on top of them. Eye witnesses in Kandahar speak of the change under the Taleban, and the subsequent return of the ashna.
One witness is the soldier Torjan. “In the later Mujaheddin years”, he told the British newspaper The Times, “more and more soldiers would take boys by force and keep them for as long as they wished. When the Taleban came, they were very strict about the ban”. However, the streets of Kandahar are now full of bearded men (usually married with families), walking openly accompanied by 15- or 16-year-old boys.
The ashna are approached in the street, in cinemas or football stadiums, and are coerced into sex by the offer of a drink, a piece of clothing, jewellery, money or a fighting pigeon, with which they can make a comfortable living. In the poverty-stricken world of Afghanistan, survival is the order of the day.
In their quest to help feed their brothers and sisters, these boys are marked for life by the paedophiles who prey on them to raise their social status: a poor man seen with an ashna is considered to have increased in social level.
There is a local saying that birds fly over Kandahar using only one wing, the other covering their posterior. Now the population claims “Birds flew with both wings under the Taleban…but not any more”.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru