a eunuch."Rassoul did not flinch and replied that, if he had a family, he would have spent half of his time with them, and only half his time on the job - but as he was unmarried, he could channel his efforts towards his job. Social media has been equally brutal in its treatment of presidential candidate and former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah.Afghan social sites are replete with sensationalised accounts of the intimate life of the sartorially resplendent presidential contender.These were compounded by a report in the French weekly In mid February, in one of the televised debates, Abdullah was asked whether he had any "regrets", to which he replied, "Yes, I have one big regret in my life," but did not elaborate.The moderator did not pursue the matter."Within the cultural context of the country, this is just to derail people's attention and get voters to look at the negative side of things as opposed to the real issues," he says.The ancient custom, banned under the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, has seen a resurgence in recent years.It is said to be widespread across southern and eastern Afghanistan's rural Pashtun heartland, and with ethnic Tajiks across the northern countryside. Tight gender segregation in Afghan society and lack of contact with women have contributed to the spread of bacha bazi, rights groups say.AFP has gathered testimonies from multiple Afghan families whose children were abducted for the practice of "bacha bazi" -- sexual exploitation of boys. Powerful warlords, commanders, politicians and other members of the elite often keep "bachas" as a symbol of authority and affluence.
A boy carries bread on his head to sell on a hilltop overlooking Kabul April 20, 2015.They can also be used as dancers at private parties.Bacha bazi is not widely seen as homosexual behaviour -- popularly demonised as a deviant sexual act, prohibited in Islam -- and is largely accepted as a cultural practice. "Women are for child-rearing, boys are for pleasure" is a common saying across many parts of Afghanistan.Some believe Afghanistan's newly minted social media forums are the heirs of .Others claim these forums are being used, possibly indirectly, by some candidates themselves to level personal attacks against opponents without having to sink to the level of verbalising those allegations in televised debates or campaign rallies. The 71-year-old nephrologist-turned-politician has pitted himself as an elder statesman, owing to his years in the post-Taliban government, first as an adviser to the president, then as minister of civil aviation, national security adviser and, finally, as foreign minister.