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Taliban violence, their devalued females and the tragedy of the bacha bazis PART-3

Bacha Bazis, Taliban, Jihadis


Taliban violence, their devalued females and the tragedy of the bacha bazis PART-3

In Part 3 in BLiTZ we look at the maternal bond and what went wrong in Taliban culture that it should brutalize its females.

The “Unseverable” Maternal Bond

Further complicating the picture of violent bonding there exists a social albeit unconscious prohibition against a child separating from his or her mother psychologically. The Iraqi pediatric psychiatrist Sami Tamimi has explicitly written about this in his Pathological Child Psychiatry and the Medicalization of Childhood in which he labels the bond between mother and child as “unseverable.”  The Taliban maternal bond is similar as it embodies violence against its own women. What exactly does “unseverable” mean? What are its ramifications? It means that the child is not permitted to go through an individuation-separation stage of development which is so characteristic of Western culture. Pervasive shaming is used as a tool to keep the child bound to the mother who as a little devalued abused girl had no power. Thus, when she gives birth to the male baby, he not only becomes her alleged “honor,” he is her tool of power. The maternal tie is too tight as the male baby is misused as a narcissistic object. Narcissism has a very aggressive dark side and it should not be underestimated as to its destructive nature. Such an unconscious under current that gets played about between mother and male infant results in projection and massive blaming of the Other. In the West this is known colloquially as the shame-blame-game.


The outreach email from EMMA – the German women’s magazine and the bacha bazis

This leads into the email I received from the managing editor at EMMA who had found an essay written in 2015 entitled “The Sadomasochism of the jihadi death cult” that I had written. The question asked of me was: Is there a relationship between the abuse of the bacha bazis and the violence of the Taliban? As early as 1997 the Tunisian sociologist Abdelwahhab Bouhdiba in his Sexuality in Islam had already answered this question with regard to male violence when he unconsciously understood and analyzed it in light of male sexuality and the maternal bond.

Because the male baby is a narcissistic object of the mother whereby he has been essentially emasculated, this leads to violent fantasies that in turn become concretized and acted out later in life, targeting the female as a displaced object of his maternal rage. Jihadis bond violently to the female as an unconscious strategy in order to destroy their maternal bond, in order to “set themselves” free from such massive maternal “oppression.” Bouhdiba recalls the famous story in One Thousand and One Arabian Nights in which a boy must kill off his mother in order to escape the suffocating bond.


The “imprisoned” Afghan mother remains powerless in being able to protect her children, including the Bacha Bazis.

When one beats up and imprisons the female by cloaking them in a shroud and forcing them to stay at home without the opportunity to become educated or to work, such terror causes intergenerational transmission of that trauma. Stress hormones and abuse greatly impact on the development of the child. The male child (as well as the female suicide bomber) has learned to bond violently – having been hit himself by his father and having witnessed the terrifying helplessness of his mother upon whom he depends.

Being devalued as a little female is not just a label. It means something much more insidious – namely the day in and out of shaming used as a control tool in order to get the child to submit — the chronic unspoken bullying, manipulating, being under surveillance of the brother, being nothing more than an object to be controlled. The oppression is always present and relentless. The little girl grows up under the death threat of the honor killing. Unconsciously it may be surmised that she is aware that something unjust has been foisted upon her. She might not be able to put it into words nor describe her emotional view of what it is like to live under patriarchy or in this specific case of the Taliban, but she knows at a deep unconscious level that something is drastically wrong with the picture. She has imbibed the undercurrent of chronic unconscious and conscious male as well as female rage. She lives in a reverse world, the crazy-making world of fanatics, a bit like the Pixar movie “Inside Out” but only much worse and life-threatening. What is good is bad and what is bad is good.


As I have noted earlier here at BLiTZ jihadis constitute a hyper shame honor culture arising out of the ummah’s shaming structures. Jihadis are the tip of the spear because they share a particularly unique sexual intimacy as being the off-spring of members of the ummah. They are also the hyper carriers of the ummah’s disavowed aggression and rage. They provide perfect cover for the global ummah to claim that they have nothing to do with them. This is passive aggressive behavior in one of its most clever unconscious forms. It’s also known as gaslighting. If one is psychologically forbidden from separating from one’s mother, one does not develop the cognitive capacity to be able to see the proverbial forest from the trees. Moreover, one does not develop a sense of empathy for others because the child has only known treatment as an object. Separation and individuation are a vital stage of child development where one learns that one can go out into the world and return home safely and confidently. Western fairy tales speak to this mastery of obstacles such as Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. This is not the case in Afghanistan because the veneration of martyrdom such as suicide bombing, teaches a child the exact reverse — that to go out into the world, one blows himself up and dies.

In next week’s Part IV we will continue to look more closely at the bacha bazis and Taliban violence.

The above has been excerpted and updated from my essay originally published by Brig. General John Galatas, M.D. in his HZS C2 Diary November 2021

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Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D. is a Contributing Editor to Blitz, Psychoanalyst and Counter Terrorist Expert.

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