Child Abuse in Pakistan’s Madrassas: A Disturbing Reality

Farrukh Saif

April 3, 2024

Madrassas-Pk

The issue of child abuse in Pakistan’s religious seminaries, known as madrassas, has long been a dark secret, but recent reports have brought this pervasive problem to the forefront. 

However, these institutions have also become hubs of sexual abuse, where young students are exploited, harassed, and even raped by the very teachers entrusted with their care. 

In a recent incident in Faisalabad, a man filed a complaint against a local cleric for attempting to rape his 12-year-old son. The father claimed to have caught the culprit, Abu Bakar Muawiyah, red-handed, and the cleric was initially arrested.

However, a twist emerged when an influential Maulana, Ibtisam Zaheer, intervened and mediated a resolution between the accused cleric and the victim’s father. Shockingly, the accused was then released, and the father was reportedly coerced into “forgiving” the perpetrator “to please God.”

This case highlights the alarming trend of Islamic religious leaders using their influence to undermine the criminal justice system and shield abusers from accountability. These Islamic Clerics are untouchable in Pakistan; It is observed that they become so powerful that even the law and Enforcement institutes in Pakistan often face attacks from the Clerics.

Madrassas in Pakistan:

These clerics and madrassa leaders enjoy significant influence and power within their local communities, making it extremely difficult for victims and their families to come forward and report the crimes. 

Beyond the horrific acts of sexual exploitation and assault, many of these madrassas are also known to indoctrinate young students with an ideology of intolerance and hatred towards the “Western world” and other religions.

In Pakistan today, there are around 45,000 schools (though the exact number isn’t known). These schools teach a stricter form of Islam compared to before. They mix ideas from Wahhabism, a strict version of Islam from Saudi Arabia, with Deobandism, a movement that’s against Western influence and believes the West causes corruption in Islamic societies, so it questions the legitimacy of state laws.

Many of the students who graduate from these madrassas go on to join extremist groups or become foot soldiers in the ongoing ideological war against the West and other belief systems. These madrassas also serve as breeding grounds for sexual abuse and other immoral acts. According to the Official Report of the Organization “Sahil,” a total of 4,213 child abuse cases were reported in Pakistan in 2023.

Religious Persecution In Pakistan:

If they are treating their own Muslims like that, consider what they do with other religious minorities in Pakistan. Christians and Hindus, who make up less than 5% of the total population in Pakistan, are under constant threat from Islamic clerics. Whenever they wish, they abduct and convert minor Hindu and Christian girls for their own pleasure. Additionally, whenever they desire, they accuse any minority member of blasphemy and burn down Christian homes and churches.

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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