Madressahs play a crucial role in education, particularly in Muslim countries like Pakistan, offering Quranic teachings, Islamic studies, and Arabic language education. They provide religious instruction, fostering a solid foundation in faith, beliefs, and moral values. Additionally, Madressahs serve as community centres, promoting social cohesion and hosting religious and cultural events.
Despite marking Children’s Day to renew the pledge for safeguarding children’s rights, it is disheartening that children in Pakistan frequently experience various forms of abuse—physical, emotional, and sexual. Child abuse leaves lasting physical and mental impacts on victims. Statistics from the first half of this year alone indicate approximately 2227 reported cases of child abuse, though there is no specific data on abuse within Madressahs.
Looking briefly at history, reports of child abuse in Madressahs are relatively rare, but sadly, such events have become increasingly common. In Lahore 2021, a cleric was discovered sexually harassing a student for three years, and in Multan, a 13-year-old disabled girl was sexually assaulted by another cleric. Many cases may go unreported as victims are not only physically but also mentally scarred.
Child abuse in Madressahs is a deeply concerning issue that requires immediate attention. With an estimated enrollment of 3 million students in Madrassas, the state must scrutinise these institutions closely. It is crucial for individuals, communities, and the government to raise awareness, implement effective child protection laws, and provide support to survivors. Everyone has a role in creating a safe and nurturing environment for children. Additionally, Madressahs must establish proper protocols to prevent and address instances of abuse.