Pedophilia is a widely-accepted practice in southern Afghanistan, where "boys are apprenticed to older men for their sexual initiation," US social scientists find. British officers requested the study amid soldiers’ complaints about unwanted advances from locals, including Afghan soldiers. Young Western troops "were beginning to feel uncomfortable because they felt they were being approached," said the author of the study.
"The sexual abuse of children is illegal" in the country, noted a British official—but the practice of "bache bazi," or "boy play," is familiar across Afghanistan, especially in the south. British troops have complained about Afghan police and militias "keeping boys as hangers on," the Telegraph reports. "To dismiss the existence of this dynamic out of desire to avoid Western discomfort is to risk failing to comprehend an essential social force underlying Pashtun culture," says the report.