Child abuse in madrassas

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.

SAIMA NAIKBAKTH,

Turbat.

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