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Child Abuse and Islamist Madrassas

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Submitted by Vishnu Gupta (India), Mar 22, 2006 at 04:59

Alarming reports on madrassas in UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh! Increasingly in the present times, sending children after school to Islamist-run madrassas is not a matter of free choice. At what price, the parental silence or subjugation over increasing malpractices and outright abuse under the protective umbrella of political Islam? See:

Children at 'risk of harm' in UK madrasas
[ Wednesday, March 22, 2006 02:13:25 pmREUTERS ]

by Jahed Ahmed & Avijit Roy

--"We did not join the government in power simply to enjoy the share of bread and butter; and ownerships of the cars-houses. Our major aim is Islamic revolution. Should Jamaat ever come to power (on our own) ; we shall introduce Sharia-law (into the country)."

-Chief leader ("ameer") of Jamaat-e-Islami and agriculture minister Mullah Motiur Rahman Nizami, Bangladesh , during a speech in 2003...


Re: Every Single Child is Sexually Abused in the Churches in west and America!!
02/22/05 07:56 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply

And children are raped in Madarassas!!!!

The Saints Of Dark Sins
An AIDS conference woke Pakistan to a stark, ugly reality: the rampant sodomy in madrassas
Special Issue: 4. International

For decades, it has been a sight common to most Pakistani homes: the bearded maulana teaching children the holy Quran. But what has changed over the last few years is the presence of a family elder at these private tuitions, irrespective of the child's gender. The family elder, though it's tacit, is there to deter the maulana from preying upon children for sexual gratification. Indeed, the maulana's penchant to sodomise the male child, or molest girls, has been Pakistan's darkest, best-kept secret.

Until it was made public last month at a most unusual venue: a World AIDS Day conference in Islamabad.

Husain cited 500 cases of sexual abuse in 2004, 2,000 in 2003.

And the person who dared talk about it was the country's junior minister for religion, ushr and zakat, Dr Amir Liaquat Husain. The irrepressible minister, who conducts a weekly religious programme on a private TV channel, said Pakistan
must countenance the harsh truth about the madrassa's role in spreading AIDS. This was because, he offered to explain, maulanas are guilty of rampant sexual abuse of children.

There was an ironical backdrop to Husain's decision to blow the whistle. The Pakistan government has in recent times been trying to revamp the country's antediluvian madrassas, and also hoping they could, because of their tremendous clout, spread awareness about AIDS in society. Obviously, Husain assumed, the maulanas couldn't teach safe sex even as they abused their pupils. Lest his audience was unaware of how rampant the menace was in madrassas, the minister said, "During a raid on a madrassa in Karachi, I caught a cleric red-handed, abusing a student sexually.
An inquiry was ordered."

Since that conference on December 1, Husain's remarks have continued to generate controversy, gathering momentum every day with clerics,

The revelation comes when madrassas were being asked to help spread AIDS awareness.

the government and the minister's party, the MQM, joining issue. The initial response of the clerics was to run for cover and keep mum on the affair. But as the western media picked up the contentious thread, the maulanas rallied to hit back as only they could. They issued death threats to Husain.

Not one to be pummelled by the unholy passion of the maulanas, Husain began to reel out statistics to the media to bolster his case. There were 500 reported cases of sexual abuse involving the maulanas in 2004; it was as high as 2,000 in 2003; and, worse, there hasn't yet been a successful prosecution.

The fury of the fundamentalists prompted a nervous Shaukat Aziz government to ask the senior religious minister, Ijaz-ul-Haq, to mollify the clerics. In doing so, Ijaz was attempting to appease the constituency of fundamentalists whom his father, Zia-ul-Haq, had so assiduously cultivated. In the Senate, the conglomeration of religious parties, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, and even liberal parties like the Pakistan People's Party banded together to demand an apology from Husain. PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar told Outlook, "Actually, Husain made a sweeping statement and painted everyone black with his brush. He should have talked about specific examples."

The MQM found the heat difficult to bear. It asked Husain to apologise. Sans support from the political class and civil society, Husain relented: he apologised in the last week of December. Some thought President Pervez Musharraf, whose post-9/11 rhetoric has been anti-fundamentalist, should have publicly backed Husain's fight against the maulanas. Musharraf, however, remained silent, though it is said he told the junior minister in private that he shouldn't have apologised.

Some western websites perceived a political dimension in the controversy. As one of these noted, rather gravely, "Rape is practised to break the spirit of the child and make him obedient to the extent that he can carry out terrorist acts, including suicide bombing.

The minister should take the funds available from foreign sources and simply take the pre-teen children out of residential seminaries, (besides) replacing them with normal (read secular) schools."

Others saw a global trend in the incidents of sexual abuse in Pakistan's religious seminaries. There have been infamous cases of Catholic priests sexually exploiting children in the West; there's also the cases surrounding the Kanchi math in India currently. With the 'faithful' betraying the faith the child reposes in them, psychologist Dr Iffat Hussain points out, "Abuse on children has devastating effects on their lives later on. Sexual abuse not only destroys the child's personality but also turns such abused individuals into culprits later on."

The controversy received a fresh impetus this week as the National AIDS Control Programme held a workshop in Islamabad. Its goal: to convince religious leaders to encourage HIV/AIDS patients to use contraceptives instead of separating from their partners. They were also encouraged to talk about the HIV/AIDS kit in their Friday sermons. The moot question is: is the mullah suited for the job?

Pakistani NGO SPARC (Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child) in its 2003 report says that an amount of $225 million has been earmarked to modernise 8,000 madrassas over three years. The modernisation programme, it is hoped, could also help spread consciousness about AIDS. Yet, the same report says 14 per cent of all child-abusers in 2003 were clerics. SPARC activists cite three specific cases from 2004 to illustrate sexual abuse of children and their brutalisation in religious seminaries.

Case One
In June 2004, when five-year-old Talha did not return from the Lajna mosque in Lahore, where he had gone to take Quranic lessons from Maulvi Mohammad Altaf, his mother went to fetch him. She found the boy in the corridor of the mosque, bleeding and unconscious; the maulvi was missing from the mosque. An fir was duly lodged. Altaf was subsequently arrested and Tahla identified him as the person who had sodomised him.

The family was determined to pursue the case. But soon different religious groups began to mount pressure on them to drop the case; the family was even told that these "maulvis have links with Al Qaeda". Pressure was, apparently, also brought upon the police. The family ultimately relented in July, agreeing to not pursue their case and withdrawing their witnesses.

Case Two
Sanam, 9, daughter of Mohammad Saleh Kori, a resident of the Microwave Colony, Sukkur, Sind, was a student of Abdul Wahid Chachar's madrassa. On February 15, 2004, at the end of her classes, Maulvi Abdul Wahid told her that she was his wife and would have to live with him. Sanam rushed out to tell her parents about the incident. When her father went to the madrassa to complain, Abdul produced a nikahnama bearing Kori and his daughter's signatures.

The father-daughter had been tricked into appending their signature to the marriage document. Apparently, the maulana had asked them to sign on a form, claiming it would enable the family to receive zakat (charity money). The illiterate father, obviously, couldn't distinguish between a zakat form and a nikahnama. Worse, the local Chachar tribesmen began pressuring him to hand over Sanam to Abdul.

Case Three
Child abuse in seminaries often involves physical torture. As in the case of 11-year-old Atif. Brutally assaulted at a seminary in Faisalabad, he is currently undergoing treatment at the Children's Hospital in Lahore. On May 1, 2004, he was quoted saying, "I was punished by the teacher who wanted to make an example of me because I dared to escape from the daily routine of beatings at the seminary." Once nabbed, he was chained and detained in a room at the seminary; Maulvi Mahboob Alam then beat him severely with an iron rod. The hospital's treatment note says the boy was brought in with a head injury and bruises all over the body. Atif's case came to light following the intervention of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

It's one thing to take legal action against culprits or modernise madrassas. It's quite another to retreat against the fury of fundamentalists keen to insulate their arcane world from scrutiny and criticism. A pity Pakistanis let down Husain.

What is the problem with these people, my friends?!?!?!?!?! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!!!!???!!!

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