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Concern over Afghan boy’s conviction
A leading human rights organisation has called on the Afghan government to take urgent steps to ensure that rape and sexual abuse of children leads to prosecution of the abusers and not of victims, following the conviction of a 13-year-old boy on moral crimes charges after he was accused of having sex with two adult men in a public park.
Human Rights Watch said the boy from Afghanistan’s western Herat province had been sentenced to one year in juvenile detention in an October 2012 case that had only recently came to light.
Afghan law prohibits “pederasty,” which is commonly understood to mean sex between a man and a boy, and makes it a crime punishable by five-15 years in prison. “Moral crimes” charges, which under Afghan law include not only pederasty but also all sexual relations between people who are not married to each other, have frequently been used to punish victims of criminal offenses.
“When a man has sex with a 13-year-old child, the child is a victim of rape, not a criminal offender,” said HRW Asia director Brad Adams.
“The Afghan government should never have victimized [sic] this boy a second time, but instead should have released him immediately with urgent protection and assistance.”
A prosecutor involved in the case told Human Rights Watch that the boy was prosecuted because he said he had consented to engaging in sexual relations with several adult men. The decision in the case is under appeal. The authorities also arrested the men and charged them with moral crimes, but the outcome of their case is unknown.