"Have You Heard of Me?"

July 16, 2015 Kristen Wainscott Video 
Sex Trafficking, Awareness, Faith, News

This poem is my interpretation after researching stories on bacha bazi. Bacha bazi is the practice of men preying upon younger boys, many times stating that they are apprentices, and ultimately using them for their own sexual pleasure. This pedophilia has been a long time part of the culture in Afghanistan. While the Taliban was in power, bacha bazi was actually banned. Since the Taliban has been overthrown, it has come back more prevalently in the communities. The most important part needing to be addressed with bacha bazi is the complete coercion and exploitation of these young boys. As of now, there are not many individuals who are combatting the practice of bacha bazi. There is a common question of whether this is culture or whether this is slavery. I’d have to say that within cultures' norms, slavery has existed and been accepted before. Whether this was once seen as “okay” is not the issue today. In the documentary cited in this video, you can see the men do know it is wrong. The problem is that there are not people willing, due to coercion or fear, to be firm and truly tell them it is not okay to ruin the innocence and take away the youth of a child. It is my hope that by listening to this poem, you may understand the pain of these boys. They are trapped in an awful situation and need your help. Please share this with your friends and family.

Have you heard of me?

I am a dancing boy. 

Bacha Bazi-

I am somebody’s toy. 

Some of us have no family.

Some of us are very poor.

For all of us, a man said come with me.

Behind us, he closed the door.

He was a very nice man.

He said he wanted to take me under his wing.

After getting into the van,

He promised me everything.

I am paraded around…

As a trophy to be had.

Through these beautiful gowns and bells I am bound.

All to make these men glad.

I am taught how to dance.

I am taught what to say.

I am bought for romance,

But it seems like I am the one that has to pay.

The music sets the scene,

And the party can commence.

Though I may only be thirteen,

Not a one comes to my defense.

They gaze at me with lust.

They express their desire.

And though I don’t understand, I know I must

Comply, or this will turn dire.

These men are politically powerful.

Pillars of our community.

They are tactful and deceitful.

They view the vulnerable as opportunity.

Some men walk up in enchantment,

And tell me they wish I was theirs.

My master notices their advancement-

And sometimes he is willing to share.

It hurts –

I cannot lie.

I feel kicked around like dirt,

But I must try not to cry.

My family is so hungry.

I stay to help my mom.

We’ve all been promised money,

But they hold our lives in their palm.

I’m not sure which is worse…

Needing to stay or needing to flee. 

To be raped or end in a hearse.

Doesn’t anyone hear my plea?

He will kill me if I leave,

But I feel like I’m dying if I stay.

This torture, you couldn’t believe.

And I feel this each and every day.

I see other kids outside.

They have fun and play games.

While I am chained at his side.

“Please set me free!” I want to exclaim.

Liberate me from rape!

Liberate me from the pain!

Allow me to escape.

Someone, please break this chain.

He lives above the law.

I am not his object to own.

If you only saw,

Then maybe Bacha Bazi struggles would be known.

Night after night,

And day after day.

I pray you’ll do what’s right...

“You’re free now” I hope you’ll say.

Before it’s too late,

Won’t you take me away from here?

I know I was meant for something great.

To live a childhood free from fear.

To be free of him.

To be free of them all.

To be free from his whim.

Not dressed and treated like their doll.

They put me in a dress.

He attaches bell after bell.

Only for them to say, “Undress.”

And ask me not to tell.

I want to scream, “No!”

But I have no other choice.

My body, he won’t let go.

I cry, but I have no voice.

There seems no way out.

They confuse me with their lies.

Would it matter if I shout?

Are you willing to vocalize?

I need reason to believe.

I need to stay strong.

I have goals I want to achieve. 

Will you tell them that this is wrong?

Decide today!

Take a stand now!

Take me away.

I’ll tell you how 

Tell my story.

Make my voice heard.

Relieve me of this purgatory.

Tell them this, word for word.

By making people aware,

I know I might be freed.

I know that you care.

Be the change that we need.

I would like to go to school,

And learn with my friends.

I could teach others not to be cruel, 

So that this cycle eventually ends.

We could become doctors,

Or maybe become cooks.

Some of us could become actors,

And others could write books.

But until someone comes 

And saves me from this place,

Myself and other victims

Are enslaved to this selling race.*

Watch this video to learn more.

My story is not alone.

Many have been in this before.

Bacha Bazi is not something to condone.

If the video moves you

And inspires you to take a stand,

Share our stories with a friend or two.

Share till slavery is truly banned. 

It may not end at first.

Remember these men are persuasive.

But at least our stories will be known, at worst.

With the judgement of all, they can’t be evasive.

Let’s make an alliance.

You and me.

We’ll stand in defiance.

And end slavery. 

*Selling Race is used as a metaphor in this text. Its literal meaning is a horse race after which the winning horse must be auctioned.



Topics: Sex Trafficking, Awareness, Faith, News

About the Author

Kristen Wainscott

Kristen Wainscott is currently finishing her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs, while minoring in Political Science and obtaining a certificate in Human Rights. Kristen is an Anti-Slavery Intern at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in the Modern Slavery Department. Through her experiences in organizations like Children's International Summer Villages (CISV) that aims to educate and inspire action for a more just and peaceful world, and Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) that addresses critical global issues by providing meaningful volunteer services to communities abroad, and contributing responsibly to local economies, she found her call to action to promote human rights while focusing on modern day slavery.