Afghan migrant who raped 12-year-old boy claims ‘cultural differences’ in defence

The defence lawyer of an Afghan migrant convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy in France argued that child sexual abuse is customary in his client’s homeland during an attempt in mitigation to have his sentence reduced.

The heinous attack occurred in August 2018, when the young boy was intercepted by Mohammed Rahman Arsala as he travelled to a nearby playground. The child was led to an abandoned warehouse in the north-west commune of Saint-Brieuc where he was subsequently raped.


During a sentencing hearing on Monday in the Assize Court of Côtes-d’Armor, the migrant paedophile’s lawyer suggested that his client should not be held fully responsible for the attack, citing Bacha Bazi, an Afghan custom of adult men sexually abusing adolescent boys and keeping them as sex slaves to dance seductively at all-male parties.

“Custom is not a law, and yet, we must take into account the cultural element,” the defence lawyer said. “Because we are all the product of cultural standards, of a story. And he was born a hundred kilometers from Kabul. We don’t know what his story is.”

“He tells us that if he had been married, this would never have happened because he would have had a wife to satisfy his needs,” claimed the lawyer.


The prosecution dismissed the argument, highlighting the trauma the child had suffered as a result of the despicable attack.

“We have to think about what the journey of a child victim is like,” the Advocate General, Grégory Martin-Dit-Neuville told the court. “He had to tell the police what he’s been through, once, twice, three times. Then to the doctor. He had to take preventive treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Then, there is the psychological counseling and so on. The child also had to explain the crime to his parents.”

The migrant’s long list of previous offences during his short stay in France was also listed to the court, which included the sexual assault of a young girl he invited into his house, taking photos of young girls outside of a school and public masturbation in front of school girls on a beach.

The presiding judge took a dim view of the defence’s argument and sentenced the migrant to 15 years in prison, after which he will be deported from France.