There’s so much to say about this report. I’ve been reading Ghost Wars, the history of CIA/Afghan activities leading up to 9/11, so I’ve gotten a feel for Afghanistan’s Pashtun culture. Where previously I felt like Pashtun society and its version of Islam were obviously Medieval, I now realize they are more like Amazonian tribesmen than third-world peasants. Having seen The Kite Runner film, I was familiar with the man-boy love situation over there, but had no idea how pervasive sexual abuse was for young boys in Afghanistan.
To summarize the report, because of Islam’s requirements to cover women, and its presentation of women as “unclean”, and because of the limited economic and social access to women in the remote hills of Afghanistan, homosexuality is absolutely rampant among Pashtun tribesmen. And to make things even worse:
…homosexuality is indeed prohibited within Islam, warranting great shame and condemnation. However, homosexuality is then narrowly and specifically defined as the love of another man. Loving a man would therefore be unacceptable and a major sin within this cultural interpretation of Islam, but using another man for sexual gratification would be regarded as a foible.
The sex act is OK; it’s the love that’s wrong! Scarier still is the pervasiveness even in the cities like Kandahar:
Dr. Mohammed Nasem Zafar, a professor at Kandahar Medical College, estimates that about 50% of the city’s male residents have sex with men or boys at some point in their lives.
And then this:
They reminded me that one of the country’s favorite sayings is “women are for children, boys are for pleasure.”
Any hope I had for Afghan culture to begin to advance toward modernity just took several steps back. Their combination of hyper-rural isolation with restrictive religion make hillbilly Southerners look like genteel Victorians. The level of traumatic psychological damage these cultural cross-wirings are causing Pashtun children absolutely boggles the mind.
It’s interesting to me that all this loveless pseudo-homosexuality is happening as a result of purely cultural and developmental factors. This gives strong support to the concept of homosexuality as a developmental rather than genetic phenomenon. I’ve long suspected that sexual preferences are based more strongly on developmental factors rather than intrinsically genetic ones. Fortunately one side effect of all this man-boy love is that many of these Pashtuns won’t produce offspring.
I wonder if this report will make the rounds to the conservative/Christian blogs, and I wonder what effects it might have. Will it be used as ammunition against Islam as a whole? Will it motivate them to demand we leave Afghanistan?
Whatever happens, the deep well of sadness I have for Afghanistan just got a little deeper.
1.) Try your best to ignore the spellcheck-enabled typos. These sorts of reports don’t tend to be sent to proofreaders I guess.
2.) I’m fascinated by the cultural construct of “unclean” in societies whose terrain consists primarily of dirt. They are so afraid of what is right under their feet. Perhaps rightly so? If they had more flora under their feet, would they still care? Amazonians don’t seem to.