April 23, 2010

Name: 1SG (retired) Troy Steward
Posting date:4/23/10
Returned from: Afghanistan

I have written before about the confusion that Afghan men have with sexuality; the rampant number of homosexuals there are amongst the Afghan male population, the “chai boys” and the young soldiers in the Afghan Army and police who become R&R tools for older, senior members. I have had many people ask me about “Man-Love Thursdays", which I discussed in a post in July 2006.

Well, in case you didn’t believe me or anyone else who has been to Afghanistan and talked about it, now you have a chance to hear about the subject from an MSM outlet.

According to a recent Frontline report, Pashtun men interpret the Islamic prohibition on homosexuality to mean they cannot “love” another man -- but that doesn’t mean they can’t use men for sexual gratification. This story shines some light on how Afghan men can justify this practice in their own minds. I have heard the term “selective compliance," but for a supposedly religious man whose faith says homosexuality is a terrible sin to follow this practice is, well -- pretty selective in my book.

But they say “perception is reality” and in this case I guess Afghan men don’t perceive themselves as homosexuals, so they aren’t. When we would talk to our Afghan Army counterparts about two men snuggled together in a bed, or why the Kandak Commander kept young boys with him all the time, they commonly would say it was okay because they were “deployed away from home." I guess it doesn’t matter that for some “home” is only a few hours drive away and they get there at least every two months.

In May, 2009 The Dude, my former ETT teammate and a guest blogger on, wrote a post called "Can You Look at My Wife?", about an Afghan men having a hard time understanding why his wife couldn't get pregnant. After you read that, the following statement from the Frontline story should not be a surprise:

The U.S. army medic also told members of the research unit that she and her colleagues had to explain to a local man how to get his wife pregnant.

The report said: “When it was explained to him what was necessary, he reacted with disgust and asked, ‘How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.’”

Frontline's documentary “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”, by Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi, is about the Bacha Bazi or “boy play” that is so popular in Afghanistan. I have told many people in the US that they will never even get close to understanding the culture of that country, and this practice is one of many reasons I say that.

If you want to learn a little more about Afghanistan and its culture, then I advise you to check out "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan", which aired on PBS this week and is viewable online. Here's a clip:


Yes, unfortunately some of those boys were dropped off at the gate for medical attention afterwards. The accompanying man would pose as a father or uncle and hurriedly take them away after treatment. It's really hard not to think it would be better to not treat them, but that would be inhumane. It must be hard to be a doctor.

My wife is active duty in the National Guard, and on Thursdays the vets she works with that have deployed to Afghanistan jokingly hold hands. The first time she saw it, she thought they were making fun of her since she's relatively new there. They had to explain to her what Man Love Thursdays were. When she told me, I thought it was a joke. She had to explain to me the Afghan Islamic intreptation of the Koran. It seems like the rest of the Islamic world are doing the Afghans no favors.

 When a group of women got on the car, every seat was already occupied. The conductor noticed a man who seemed to be asleep, and fearing he might miss his stop, he nudged him and said: "Wake up, sir!"

   "I wasn't asleep," the man answered.

   "Not asleep? But you had your eyes closed."

   "I know. I just hate to look at ladies standing up beside me in a crowded car."

On the money. Human sexuality is a very complicated business, and not discussing something can lead to very "unusual" results - and not only in Afghanistan.

I like this video which is regarding tale lights some light on how Afghan men can warrant this exercise in their own thoughts. I be familiar with the term selective submission but for a really spiritual man whose trust says homosexuality is a horrible sin to adhere to this exercise.

I wonder if the practice was introduced into the region during the period of Greaco-Bactarian kingdoms after Alexander? It sounds like classical Greek paedophilia, only the Greeks would have found the drag aspect immoral. Families would pass-off their sons to men of station, who would take charge of the boy's education in exchange for intimate/sexual companionship (Philios). Ironically, this education often included introducing him to women by buying him prostitutes.

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