BKs: The Rusty “Dagger-Boys” of Gilgit-Baltistan

By Liaqat Karim 

The populace of GB proudly speaks about the region’s comparatively high literacy rate, the scenic beauty and diverse cultures of the area. We indeed should be proud of all these blessings. However, we should start speaking against the social evils prevailing in the area too. Among all the vicious social evils, BKism is the most inhumane, and brutal evil, which has so far not come under scrutiny at a serious level.

Bk-ism, originated from the Shina language term, Baalo Khatar, abbreviated as BK. The term, an urban slang, describes an illicit act in which young boys are either lured or forced to have sex by other men, especially elders. Literary, ‘Baal’ means ‘Boy’ and ‘Khatar’ means ‘Dagger’ in Shina. So the rapists, pedophiles, who are indulged in BK-ism or the ‘Boy Daggers’, are known for being interested in young boys and are identified as BKs. This illicit evil prevails in many areas of GB including the hub of GB, the Gilgit city. This pestilence has killed few boys and made families suffer in the past but government seems least interested in taking any measures to punish the culprits and to eradicate this evil.

The brutal killing of ‘Hasnain”, an eight years old resident of Gilgit city, after he was sexually abused by three teenagers is the worst and recent example of BK-ism. This case doesn’t only represent three teenagers of the city but describes a certain mindset. It describes a society where the teenagers are involved in such malicious acts.

In my opinion, they are not the only culprits. They have been brought up in a society where they hear of BKs as a common slang and use it on almost daily basis. BK is a term familiar to all the Gilgiti boys and is termed as the most common slang among young boys in the city. Similar cases have been reported in the Gilgit city in the past. In 2004, a group of BKs forced ‘Muslim Khan’ a student of AKHSS Gilgit to get drowned in the Gilgit River. This guy preferred getting drowned instead of getting raped by the BKs. It is not just the victim who dies or suffers but we all can imagine the agony of their families. The most distressing issue is, if Husnain and Muslim Khan weren’t murdered, these cases would have passed unnoticed like thousands of other cases in the city. Most of such incidents pass unnoticed because of the enormous social pressure. Mostly victims don’t even reveal or file a lawsuit because of the fear of getting stigmatized. Living in a massively status conscious and interconnected society, this fear is plausible.

As a teenager, I lived in Gilgit for three years and experienced the insecurity felt by teenagers while they walk in the city. Given you are young boys in your 8 to 16, it is considered to be dangerous to roam in the Gilgit city as the BKs would always try to snatch you. As per my knowledge, our small music industry is also filled with such vicious beasts who are deeply interested in young boys. They adopt young boys as their students by promising to teach them various musical instruments. However, these dancing boys are either raped or are forced to quit the music industry. I am highlighting music industry here but this outlawed act has its deep roots in all parts of the society. I am highlighting what I know and expect others to do the same. Knowing all this we don’t discuss it because it is a taboo for us but remember the next victim may be from our families.

I won’t be discussing the causes of this social evil but the solution is to educate our kids regarding BK-ism. The most important thing for now is to ensure no similar incidents occur in any area of GB. For this we all need to educate our kids about child sex abuse. While educating our kids about sex education we need to consider following things;

  1. The kids should know how to react to something bad happening to them.
  2. They should know when to say ‘No’ when they are just not comfortable being touched by someone.
  3. They should know what to do when they face such issues. They should know that they are being protected by the law. We should educate them about the possible options they can consider when they are sexually harassed.
  4. We should encourage our kids to share their daily activities to see what kind of people they interact with. Parents should know every single guy with whom their kid has interacted for more than a maximum of thirty minutes.
  5. Schools could be the best places to educate kids about child abuse and conducting seminars and workshops regarding this social evil at school level can be very helpful.
  6. Child sexual abuse prevention programs should be conducted by all the organizations including government institutions and NGOs on local level. The parents should ensure that their child participates in such events.

I expect the social scientists of GB to identify the causes of this social evil and to propose better solutions to eradicate this evil form our society. They should make a survey to measure the intensity of the insecurity felt by individuals especially teenagers in GB.

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