Madrassas whatever side of the fence we might stand are a reality in a country like Pakistan. There are more than 22,000 registered madrassas in the Country. The students they teach are often among the poorest, who receive food. education and many a times accommodation for free.
Many more madrassas — small two- or three-room seminaries in villages throughout Pakistan — are unregistered, this can account for more than 3000. They are usually opened by a graduate of another madrassa, often without any education other than a proficiency in the Quran. They operate without scrutiny, ignored by the authorities
They are mostly funded by powerful individuals, religious extreme political entities, or foreign donors like Saudia Arabia.
In 2004, a Pakistani official disclosed to Affiliated Press (AP) news more than 500 complaints of sexual assaults against young boys in madrassas. He since refused to talk to them, and there have been no significant arrests or prosecutions.
“This is not a small thing here in Pakistan — I am scared of them and what they can do,” the official says. “I am not sure what it will take to expose the extent of it. It’s very dangerous to even try.” A minister speaking to Affiliated Press in 2017.
His assessment was shared by another senior official, a former minister who says sexual abuse in madrassas happens all the time. Both the ministers didn’t want their names used for fear of being targeted by militants.
The Religious Affairs Minister of the PML-N led Government, Sardar Muhammad Yousaf dismissed the suggestion that sexual abuse is widespread, saying such talk is an attempt to malign the religion, seminaries, and clerics. He says he was not aware of even the cases reported in the newspapers.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. On many occasions, cases don’t surpass the local Police Station.
As you might know, Pakistan is run on a mix of British and Sharia Law so we have this extremely stupid corrupted concept of “blood money”. Even if the family is able to register a case, the law is such that putting extreme pressure on powerful entities and forcing them to sign a deal for a few bucks is considered totally legal by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
A 9-year-old girl in Punjab was raped by the maulvi of a madrassa she attended. The girl started working two years ago, at 7, and her only schooling was in the Quran. She spent the rest of the day inside a swelteringly hot room sewing the traditional shalwar kameez.
Last July, a cleric “forcibly took her shalwar off and started molesting her,” according to the police report. She screamed. Two men heard her screams and stormed into the room, and found the cleric attacking her. Seeing them, the cleric fled, and the men took the bleeding girl home, the report said.
Yet the family settled the case out of court. According to a news report, he refused to say how much money they got, but neighbors say it was around Rs. 50,000.
In one month in the small town of Kehrore Pakka, three children were raped and molested and no one was arrested. A 9-year-old kid was raped by his madrasah teacher.
An excerpt from the courtroom that day read this “The fear of clerics was evident at the courthouse in Kehrore Pakka, where the former teacher of the victim waited his turn to go before a judge. A half dozen members of the radical Sunni militant organization Sipah-e-Sahabah were present at the courthouse to support the teacher. According to police, the teacher had already confessed, and the police report said he was found with the boy. Yet he swore his innocence in court.”
“I am married,” he said. “My wife is pretty, why would I do this to a kid?”
Another was a 10-year-old boy sodomized by the madrassa principal when he brought him his meal. The cleric threatened to kill the boy if he told.
The mother of the 9-year-old boy who was raped by his teacher in Kehrore Pakka vowed that she would never give in to intimidation. But relatives and neighbors say the family was hounded by religious militants to drop the charges and take money.
In the end, the mother “forgave” the cleric and accepted Rs. 50,000, according to police.
The cleric was set free.
A kid was recently harassed and assaulted by a prominent Mufti of the society, days after uproar and criticism of lack of action from the Government. Prime Minister Imran Khan, literally a few days after in an interview to a well renowned international news outlet didn’t just fail to mention the issue but instead talked about how women’s dressing was promoting rape culture. Then he went on a weird rant about cultural imperialism which nobody understood.
This is not a religious debate
The debate to reform Madrassas shouldn’t be a debate at all, it should have been done years ago. It’s a system that is literally more famous for being a breeding ground for pedophiles and terrorists than anything else, the time to call it a sensitive topic and shedding it away is over. The teachers in these institutions have zero knowledge to teach anything. Keep an ignorant eye on a system that is responsible for almost 2 million growing adults, it’s everyone’s problem. Also as a general rule raping kids shouldn’t be treated like a national sport for any clergy✌🏽