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    Govt asked to protect children from sexual assault

    KABUL (PAN): Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Sunday asked the Afghan government to protect children from sexually assaulted and stop prosecuting sexually abused boys, referring to a case  last year when a court convicted a 13-year-old boy on moral crimes charges in western Herat province.

    In the October 2012 case, recently coming to light, the boy was sentenced to one year in juvenile detention after he was accused of having sex with two adult men in a public park, the rights group said in a statement.

    Prohibited under Afghan law, “pederasty,” makes it a crime punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison.

    Moral crimes charges have frequently been used to punish the victim of a criminal offense, the organisation said. “When a man has sex with a 13-year-old child, the child is a victim of rape, not a criminal offender,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

    “The Afghan government should never have victimised this boy a second time, but instead should have released him immediately with urgent protection and assistance," he added.

    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.

    “The Afghan government needs to take urgent steps to protect children from sexual assault," Adams said. “Treating boys who have been raped as criminals undermines all government efforts to protect children from abuse.”