Who is Mohammed Arsala? Afghan migrant, 32, sexually assaults minors, says 'its normal in my country'
TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains information about sexual assault that could be traumatic for some readers. Discretion is advised.
An Afghan migrant who sexually assaulted multiple young boys and girls in France reportedly defended his actions saying it was a "normal" cultural practice in his home country.
32-year-old Mohammed Rahman Arsala emigrated from Afghanistan to Saint-Brieuc in northern France in 2018 before going on a crime spree. Last year, he was jailed for 15 years after raping a 12-year-old boy, and last week, Arsala was summoned before the courts for further offenses against minors. In July 2021, the court heard how Arsala followed the young boy off a bus, kidnapped him, and took him to an abandoned warehouse to sexually assault him in August 2018. The perpetrator returned the boy to the park, where a group of girls who had previously been bothered by Arsala noticed the distressed look on the victim's face and alerted the authorities. He was arrested later that day.
During the proceedings, the defense lawyer raised eyebrows as he asked the judge to consider the "cultural element" of the case, saying it was not uncommon for grown men to sexually abuse young boys in Afghanistan. "In my country, it is normal to have sexual relations with young boys because women are inaccessible," the defendant said in court. "When I arrived in France I did not know your laws, but since I learned that it was prohibited." According to the Daily Mail, the disturbing practice -- known as Bacha Bazi -- is illegal in Afghanistan, but perpetrators are rarely punished as many powerful state officials also indulge in the same. "He tells us that if he had been married, that would never have happened because he would have had a wife to satisfy his needs… But does he, therefore, see others only as objects?" prosecutors argued.
Arsala was taken from his cell in Brest last week to answer for other sex crimes he committed in France. Prior to raping the 12-year-old boy, the perpetrator reportedly assaulted and harassed two minor girls. He approached one of the victims in April 2018, saying he needed help with his broken English, and lured her into his room. Once they were inside, he locked the door. "He slammed me against the wall holding me down with his knee, he was way too strong, I was trying to resist, but I couldn't get away," the young victim said, as quoted by the French online newspaper ACTU. "He was trying to kiss me and tear my clothes off, I was terrified, he ended up telling me that if I wanted to leave I had to touch his penis," she continued. "When I told him I would call the police, he immediately opened the door."
The girl was hospitalized after a suicide attempt just days later, and it would be the first of many. "I wanted to touch her a little, but she wouldn't," Arsala said in court. "If she was a decent girl, she wouldn't have come up to my room." Another underage girl filed a complaint with the authorities the following month, saying he pleaded with her to have sex with him. "He was insistent and pursued me, I was very scared, I warned my parents who called the police," she said.
Arsala's prison sentence was extended to 18 years after he received another three years for the two attacks against the young girls. He will reportedly be deported from France after completing his jail term. According to ACTU, the perpetrator has also been accused of taking photos of young children at school, while others have reported seeing him masturbating on a beach. What's more? While in prison, Arsala reportedly behaved inappropriately with a female nurse and was moved to another facility where he allegedly sexually assaulted another inmate.
If you or anyone you know suspects child abuse, you are urged to immediately call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential and the hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.