Shahrag, the Pakistani town where boys aren’t safe from men
In some cases, in a few spots, wherever you look, you can just observe wolves professing to be human.
The town of Shahrag is one such spot.
Arranged in a valley in Harnai locale in Balochistan, Shahrag brags “300 to 400” coal mines that are mined by “more than 30,000 men.” There are youngsters working the mines, as well, however an official check does not exist.
The region is dominatingly populated by Pashtuns however a sizeable populace of Marri Baloch are likewise dissipated over its uneven territories. Pashtuns claim most of innate grounds in Shahrag and furthermore live in extraordinary numbers in the town. The southern piece of the Shahrag tehsil is the place coal-loaded mountains exist. What’s more, it is additionally here that the Marris live and work.
“In Shahrag,” in the expressions of a neighborhood Pashtun tenant, “one can’t stay jobless gratitude to these mountains. In the event that somebody conveys 200 men to me right now, I can choose them straight away at the coal mines.”
This is the reason most laborers here are from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. There is additionally a piece of specialists who originate from over the Afghanistan outskirt. Together, these establish around 80 percent of the workforce while the rest of the 20 percent specialists are local people and Baloch, particularly from the Marri clan.
Shahrag in Balochistan is known as a coal-mining town. In any case, it likewise conceals a terrible mystery
On its essence, Shahrag is a customarily man centric culture and genuinely religious, as well. Ladies barely left their homes and men will in general principle the perch around here.
Be that as it may, Shahrag is likewise totally cut off from whatever is left of Balochistan. No one there very comprehends what’s going on in whatever remains of the nation. No one in whatever is left of the nation thinks about Shahrag either.
In this disengagement, Shahrag has figured out how to conceal its enormous, terrible mystery: its young men are not sheltered from its men.
For the sake of ‘duty’
At the point when 13-year-old Kaleem* achieved the coal mines from Dir prior this year, he didn’t anticipate much exhibit upon his entry. In any case, a state of excavators was trusting that that day will arrive.
Also, when he set foot on the Al-Gilani part of the mountain, where nearly eight coal mines are arranged, the fervor wound up substantial. News that Dir’s coal mineworkers had acquired another person to the mines spread like out of control fire. He turned into all the rage and even excavators from other coal mines landed to investigate the new kid. Kaleem wasn’t exactly the new lady of the hour however rapidly turned into the new kid that numerous men were craving.
Settled in the mountains are cabins lodging diggers. – Photograph by creator
I left Shahrag city to go to the mountains mid one day to meet Kaleem who I had been told about by local people. Alongside around 20 others, including two young men around his age, Kaleem is housed in a mud-and-stone cabin at the highest point of a mountain. There are just two rooms and one kitchen. In the room where we take a seat for a talk, there is no light other than what small amount originates from the consuming stove.
Kaleem is wearing a dark shalwar kameez over a yellow games shirt. Luckily, he is distant from everyone else in the house at the time, around 3pm, on the grounds that his senior associates are working “presumably 1,700 feet beneath surface inside the coal pit.”
There is a major, dark tea kettle on the stove loaded up with water which is bubbling. He discloses to us that, throughout the most recent week, the climate has turned out to be freezing in Shahrag. Sitting alone by the stove, he looks perfect and clean, his dark hair searched through the center. In the wake of inviting us, he doesn’t express a solitary word; rather, he goes out to wash two mugs. Without saying a word, he pours dark tea to serve us.
Kaleem is very timid. He sidesteps practically all inquiries put to him. After a progression of monosyllabic answers, he shouts: “I don’t have a dad. I have come here to work to monetarily bolster my family back in Dir.”
What sort of work?
“I am a cook here,” he answers with a troubling grin.
[Parents] turn a hard of hearing ear to any grievances on the premise that these kids are acquiring cash … This is the reason Shahrag’s youngsters have “fellowships” with individuals as old as their folks.
Kaleem has come to Shahrag to supplant his sibling. They are four siblings. As indicated by him, they have a place with an exceptionally poor family. He considered till essential back home however needed to leave school in light of the fact that the family was reeling in neediness.
“All kids, including me, work here in light of the fact that we either don’t have older folks [parents, uncles] or they are debilitated and feeble,” Kaleem includes. “I am paid 10,000 rupees month to month.”
In this lies the appalling truth of Shahrag’s coal mines.
Youngsters, for example, Kaleem are brought here from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even from Afghanistan for the sole motivation behind explicitly manhandling them. They are utilized as sexual accomplices by develop coal mineworkers � these young men are either powerless to state no to undesirable advances or need the money offered in return for giving sexual administrations.
At first, even Kaleem does not have any desire to discuss his circumstance. Whenever approached if his body is utilized for sexual administrations, he doesn’t answer. He just leaves the room.
Excavators come back from their day of work. – Photograph by creator
The primary move at the mines closes soon after 3pm and the excavators start to rise. Every one of them come to sit with us and we rapidly change the dialog. The discussion is presently about the weakness felt by the coal excavators in the mines. As we are going to leave, I spot Kaleem sitting on a major shake and talking with a tall man.
“He [Kaleem] is their uncommon person,” relates a neighborhood excavator going with me. “The regularly scheduled installment he is given is compensation for fulfilling their desire, not to work. They don’t give him access the coal mine since he will get darkened.”
Such treatment isn’t distributed to Shah Farman*, a 16-year-old who touched base from Swat in 2017. From that point forward, he has been functioning as a coal shaper against a month to month compensation of 35,000 rupees. Be that as it may, while he is at the mines, he has been routinely assaulted by grown-up men. No one fluttered an eyelid at the end result for Shah Farman consistently. They let me know, “It’s everything ordinary.”
Maltreatment as a lifestyle
Sexual abusers come in all structures and sizes. In any case, they present themselves as customary people with a standard way of life.
For instance, take Saqib*, a neighborhood coal digger in his mid 40s. He is a tall man. There are white fixes in his dark facial hair and mustache. On the day we meet him, he wears a white top and an old chador with which he has wrapped himself up. He has been in the digging business throughout the previous 15 years.
Saqib meets us at a play area arranged far from Shahrag city, close to the Harnai street.
“The data you need to extricate from me is abnormal,” he yells when I make the inquiry. “How might I disclose to you that we explicitly misuse young men?”
In any case, when he has settled down, he starts talking.
“Indeed, I have had intercourse with young men in coal mines and even outside,” says Saqib. “This isn’t new. Swatis and different Afghans have chhothus [young sidekicks] who are their sexual accomplices. I don’t have one since I am a neighborhood. I can’t bear the cost of that.”
The coal mines are around up to 6,000 feet down. As per Saqib, kids are additionally not saved there.
“We do have a few youngsters working inside the coal mines with us,” reveals Saqib, “At the season of coal cutting, somewhere inside the coal mines, we, the senior coal excavators, have engaged in sexual relations with them, as well. Furthermore, [all this] is normal.”
He delays to gaze into the separation.
“The more you work inside the coal mine, the more you begin detesting it.”
He appears to suggest that misuse is a type of break.
The Red Feline and the mutkuli youngsters
Integral to most movement in Shahrag is a transport stop � those bringing coal from the mountains into the town or those leaving the town all will in general make a stopover at the adda for tea and refreshments.
We are situated at an eatery in the adda. Around us are many trucks, of all shapes and sizes. Some have officially made the outing to the mines while others are going to leave on the adventure. In the midst of the clamor, we are sitting tight for a man known as Sira Pishi or ‘Red Feline’.
Young men volunteer their administrations at the Shahrag transport stop. – Photograph by creator
Sira Pishi is really a 56-year-elderly person who is an infamous youngster abuser in the zone. In the adda, he is known as Red Feline since he is red-cleaned and has a red whiskers and mustache. He rises out of a corner, wearing a dark chador, a red Afghani top and a beige coat. He welcomes us and after that says nothing. I put some tea before him which he can’t. Rather, he recovers a couple of almonds from his kameez take, breaks their shells one by one with a stone, and begins crunching on them.
“Do you think I am a maniac that I will address a man holding a pen and scratch pad?”
Sira Pishi continued eating his almonds as he sat tight for me to put the pen and scratch pad once again into my sack. In the end, as Saqib, he also admits to having explicitly mishandled kids.
“Now and then youngsters come themselves,” claims Sira Pishi. “In the event that not, at that point I can smell which youngsters can be tricked [into having sex.]”
Despite the fact that youngsters, all around, get some sort of work at the adda, however when they don’t, sex work is constantly accessible as their fallback alternative.
An adolescent is the focal point of consideration for grown-up excavators. – Photograph by creator
His line finds me napping. There are scores of kids at the adda. As we discover later, most are matured somewhere in the range of seven and 18 years. What number of them are helpless?
In the event that Sira Pishi is to be accepted, practically every one of these youngsters have been explicitly mishandled by somebody or the other. One of his exploited people is nine-year-old Zulfiqar, who fills in as a mutkuli isolating mud, sand and stone from the coal. He has been working since he was six years.
“This [sexual abuse] is just the same old thing new,” Zulfiqar waves the topic of maltreatment away. “Since all that we need is cash. Our folks send us here to win cash, regardless of what it costs.