Kabul (Web Desk): Afghanistan is set to lay out stringent penalties for “bacha bazi” -– sexual slavery and abuse of boys –- for the first time, officials say.

A raft of punishments will now be listed in Afghanistan's revised penal code -- from up to seven years in jail for sexual assault to capital punishment for "aggravated cases" such as violating more than one boy.

Reports have revealed how the Taliban were exploiting rampant bacha bazi in police ranks to mount deadly insider attacks, exposing a hidden epidemic of kidnapping of young boys for institutionalised sexual slavery.

The revelations intensified longstanding demands by campaigners for Kabul to enact an incisive legal provision to curb bacha bazi — literally “boy play” — which has seen a striking resurgence in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

 “There is an entire chapter on criminalising the practice (bacha bazi) in the new penal code,” Nader Nadery, a senior advisor to President Ashraf Ghani said. “The code is expected to be adopted any time this month. This is going to be a significant step towards stopping this ugly practice.”