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The move comes after activists discovered more than 100 videos showing the alleged abuse of boys in six schools by teachers, school principals, and local authority officials.
An investigation into the alleged abuse of more than 500 schoolboys in Afghanistan has been launched after a pedophile ring was discovered last year in the country’s Logar province, The Guardian last reported Wednesday.
“We are in the process of running a comprehensive, impartial investigation,” a spokesman for the attorney general’s office said, adding that a committee had been created.
The move comes after a civil society organization, the Logar Youth Social and Civil Institution, discovered more than 100 videos posted on a Facebook page showing the alleged abuse of boys in six schools by teachers, school principals, and local authority officials.
The page was then removed, but the campaigners said that some of the boys have since been murdered.
Five families killed their sons after they were seen on the videos and two other victims, a 13 and 15-year-old, were assassinated by unknown perpetrators.
A national debate on child abuse involving members of parliament and civil society started after The Guardian reported on the abuses prompting the investigation.
Activists Mohammad Mussa Mahmoudi and Ehsanullah Hamidi, who revealed the abuse, have fled Afghanistan with their families for safety reasons after spending months living under threats.
After their research was published, United Nations agencies and NGOs said they would provide better protection to children in Logar and offer psychological support to survivors.
“Resources have been made available to help children, and things are moving in a positive direction but much work needs to be done to address these issues across the country,” said the director of one NGO working on child protection in Afghanistan, who asked for anonymity.
The director pointed out that one problem was the lack of women social workers in Afghanistan as many of the abused boys might not feel comfortable speaking to men.
Sexual violence against boys and young men is widespread in the South Asian country which has a long “tradition” of what it is known as bacha bazi, (literally, “boy for play”).
The boys who are disguised as girls and forced to dance before older men and then to have sexual relations with them.
“Impunity, toxic gender norms and poverty of victims play a big role in the silencing of these crimes. These boys come from the most marginalized sections of society, they don’t have a voice and very few speak up on their behalf,” said Charu Hogg, executive director of the All Survivors Project, an organization working with male victims of sexual violence in Afghanistan.
These boys who are often very young, generally come from poor and vulnerable families.
Yet this violence is hardly ever talked about, as survivors fear speaking up could lead to punishment or bring shame to their families.
“There’s a global culture of shame of the abused that is misplaced and it often comes out as denial. This is not unique to the Afghanistan context,” Chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Commission Shaharzad Akbar said.
While Associate Asia Director at Human Rights Watch Patricia Gossman added "there is impunity for child rape because very often the perpetrators are powerful men in the military, police, or other official institutions. Even though the practice has been criminalized, the law too often goes unenforced.”