by Patrick Appel

In response to Conor's post, many readers have written in to recommend PBS's Frontline documentary on the topic, which we linked to several months ago. A soldier writes:

I want to say that the soldiers on the ground know about this and know it is rampant. We used to call it “man love days.” We noted that attacks on our base did not occur during these events as all the men with money (Talibs) were engaging in this kind of activity. It is truly a disturbing sight to see something like this occurring and you can’t do anything about it. We were told it was a “cultural thing” and it wasn’t our business.

Another reader:

I was an aid worker in Afghanistan for a couple of years, so I certainly know the culture they are speaking about.

The bottom line is, women are off limits. You are going to see very few women once they reach the age of puberty, especially if you live in conservative parts of the country. And to mess with a woman is to risk your life: this is a part of the world that practices honor killings. So, you have an environment in which there are communities of men, with sexual urges, but who cannot have affairs with women. So what happens? The introduction of the "tea boy" (this is what I heard this position called in offices -- a young boy who fetches tea, but also provides other services). Someone quoted to me part of a Pashtun song: "There is a boy across the river with an ass like a peach/ but alas, I cannot swim."


The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson's War, and Where Men Win Glory: Pat Tillman Story all discuss this type of behavior. Just about every book I've ever read about Afghanistan has touched on the issue of boy lovers.

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