By Amal Siddiqui | November 17, 2021
In the past five months, the lives of the people in Afghanistan continue to worsen as the Taliban continue to widen their control over the country. Afghanistan is currently dealing with a large-scale human trafficking crisis that is the result of centuries of abuse where children and women are sold, kidnapped and enslaved or enlisted in the armed forces.
The United States Department of State releases an annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, designating countries based on their dedication to fighting human trafficking. Afghanistan has been designated as Tier 3, the highest threat level, indicating that it does not meet the minimum requirements for combating human trafficking and is not making a significant effort to do so.
Dr. Dennis McCarty, a professor in College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity, who teaches a course in Human Trafficking, discussed his opinion on the humanitarian issue, and said, “The report criticizes Afghanistan for a practice known as bacha bazi in which men exploit boys for social and sexual entertainment. The report also criticizes the use of child soldiers there.”
Another problem is the way that Afghan traffickers exploit adults and children by offering loans that the families cannot repay. Family members are then forced to work in a variety of settings such as brick kilns until the debt is paid. This has a massive effect on Afghanistan because, under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States can not provide non-humanitarian, non-trade-related international aid to a Tier 3 country. Per the June 2020 TIP report, use of children in armed conflict and bacha bazi has continued. Although there have been investigations and arrests in an attempt to put an end to bacha bazi, neither officers involved have been prosecuted.
McCarty also said that, “Data regarding all types of human trafficking are uniformly terrible throughout the world. We know that there is a lot of it, but most trafficking is hidden and unreported.” Anything that is actually reported in the press is severely underestimating the people who suffer from human trafficking.
According to the DOS’s TIP report, Afghanistan must significantly raise criminal prosecutions of suspected traffickers, particularly in law enforcement and the military in order to effectively combat its human trafficking crisis and move to a lower tier level. Moreover, smugglers must be found guilty and sentenced appropriately. The DOS stated that this can be achieved by enhancing the National Child Protection Committee's control and authority, as well as enabling the council to remove government employees who are discovered to be working with bacha bazi. They also demand that survivors of human trafficking receive additional government aid.