Man Arrested For Allegedly Selling 130 Women In Afghanistan Shows That Human Trafficking Remains An Issue

The Taliban has arrested a man in the Jawzjan province of Afghanistan to allegedly sell 130 women after fooling them into believing he will find wealthy husbands for them.    The district police chief of the area, Mohammad Sardar Mubariz, told AFP that the man allegedly lured his victims by promising them they could marry a wealthy husband.  Those women who agreed, the man was said to have transferred them to another province to sell them into servitude. 

The Taliban provincial police chief, Damullah Seraj, told reporters that the case is still at the initial stages of the investigation.  Jawzjan province is located in northern Afghanistan, where the Taliban have complete control over the northern areas of Afghanistan.  Crime, nepotism, and corruption are prevalent, with the rise in poverty in human trafficking, namely slavery, sexual abuse, forced labor, and forced prostitution in Afghanistan. 

Trafficking of children is worldwide on the rise, but in many places, such as Afghanistan, they are taken in brick kilns, a common practice where “workers borrow money from their employer in time of family crisis. “The debts keep each family bonded to their brick-kiln, with money deducted from their wages to pay the interest on the loan. It is impossible, out of their poverty, to pay off the debts, and these debts can be passed down from generation to generation.”

In Afghanistan, forced prostitution of children is called “bacha bazi,” a common practice among wealthy and powerful men who exploit underage boys as sexual partners.  Meanwhile, girls and women trafficking has played a significant role in eastern Afghanistan around the regions of Nangarhar and Paktia, where females are sold openly.  Women sold are usually widows, wives of poor men or girls trafficked for marriage, but are not loved by their husbands now.

Men are also subjected to forced labor and routinely engage in cost-benefit analysis to determine how much debt they can incur based on their tradable family members.

Afghan governments passed a law in 2008, which said those who forced others to engage in human trafficking would face either life in prison or eight to fifteen years. In 2017, then Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai signed a penal code to ban the practice of “Bacha Bazi,” which is a common practice in Afghanistan among wealthy and powerful men who exploit underage boys as sexual partners.

“The U.S. State Department has added Afghanistan to a list of nations doing little to stop human trafficking, saying Kabul has failed to properly address child sexual slavery and the recruitment of child soldiers,” said the site RFE/RL. “In its annual Trafficking In Persons Report released on June 25, the department included Afghanistan in the so-called Tier 3 list of countries that do not meet minimum standards to stop trafficking and are “not making significant efforts” to do so.”

Although many still criticize the Afghan government, members said they have taken major measures to address human trafficking, such as locating victims, given those who are found harsh punishments, increased training for provincial anti-trafficking officers.   A report put out in June of this year said, “The government has also increased the number of Child Protection Units at Afghan National Police recruitment centers, which the report said prevented the recruitment of 357 child soldiers.”

Although the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in July of this year, the Afghan government hasn’t done enough despite its so-called stance on this issue.  “Afghan officials remain complicit, especially in the sexual exploitation…of children by Afghan security forces.” Also, “There are about 8,400 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, providing training and assistance to Afghan security forces under the NATO mission.” The practice of bacha bazi has reportedly spread since the fall of the Taliban, who declared it un-Islamic. It has now spread from rural areas to big cities, including Kabul.”

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