Authorities in Afghanistan have banned the sale of imitation AK-47s (“Kalashnikovs”) and other toy guns.
The move, which comes after the toys caused injuries to more than 100 children and teenagers during Eid al-Fitr celebrations, is reportedly part of a wider initiative to stem a culture of violence in the war-ravaged central-Asian nation.
According to an Agence France-Presse report, children toting faux-firearms that propel rubber or plastic pellets are a common sight during Eid al-Fitr, the festival held to mark the end of the 30-day Ramadan fast.
Youngsters purchase the imitation “Kalashnikovs”, fake revolver pistols and plastic rifles with pocket money traditionally given to them by elders during the celebrations.
But, as reported by Agence France-Presse, the government wants to restrict the influence of such toys on the minds of Afghanistan’s impressionable youth, with many observers “drawing a connection between juvenile war games and adult violence”.
“[Interior minister Noor-ul Haq Uloomi] has ordered all police forces immediately to confiscate all plastic guns which can lead to physical and psychological damage,” an Afghanistan Interior ministry statement announced Tuesday.
Afghanistan is not the first country in the region to impose such restrictions on toy sales.
In early July, the Pakistani city of Peshawar banned the popular toys for a one-month period in an attempt to avoid the heightened risk of injuries associated with the surge in toy gun sales during Eid al-Fitr.
Speaking to NBC News following Peshawar’s ban announcement, Deputy Police Commissioner Riaz Khan Mahsud said: “The basic purpose behind the ban on the sale of toy guns is to discourage [the] growing trend of arms and violence among the children.”
But, alluding to the two-way street concerning the influence of toy weapons and their alleged role as a catalyst in the manifestation of real violence, Professor Zafar Iqbal, a Pakistani paediatric ophthalmologist who has treated children with eye injuries from rubber pellets, told NBC: “Unfortunately, militancy and violence have promoted the culture of arms in our society and children are now frequently playing with toy arms instead of traditional toys.”
A clear link between toy guns and real violence has not been established beyond doubt.
“Everyone has an informal causation theory that playing with guns leads to the use of guns in adulthood,” Michael Thompson, psychologist and author of “It’s a Boy! Your Son’s Development From Birth to Age 18”, tells WebMD. “[But] there’s no scientific evidence suggesting that playing war games in childhood leads to real-life aggression.”
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