Rights campaigners voiced outrage on Sunday over a 13-year-old Afghan boy jailed for having sex with two adult men, urging the Kabul government to release him and punish his abusers.
The boy, accused of having sex with two men in a public park in the western province of Herat, was sentenced to one year in juvenile detention, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.
Afghan law bans "pederasty", sex between a boy and a man, but HRW said "moral crimes" charges, which include all sexual relations outside of marriage, have been used to punish the victim of a criminal offence.
"When a man has sex with a 13-year-old child, the child is a victim of rape, not a criminal offender," Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said in a statement.
"The Afghan government should never have victimised this boy a second time, but instead should have released him immediately with urgent protection and assistance."
The statement said the two men involved in the incident, which took place in September but only recently came to light, were also arrested and charged but their case was unknown.
Justice officials in Herat were unable to give details of the case when contacted by AFP.
The rights group quoted an Afghan prosecutor involved in the case as saying that the boy was convicted "because he said he had consented to engaging in sexual relations with several adult men".
There is no age of consent for sex under Afghan law, HRW added.
HRW also slammed the practice of "bacha bazi", or "boy play", in which boys or male teenagers dressed like girls dance in parties attended by men and are frequently abused afterwards.
The culture is strictly banned under Afghan laws but is known to be practised often by powerful militia commanders in much of the country.
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