Interim Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Sunday vowed authorities will take all necessary steps to ensure swift justice for the victims of sexual abuse at a madrassa in Chakwal.
Speaking to media after visiting the family of one of the victims, the caretaker said the suspects would face the maximum punishment under law. “We are ashamed over this incident, but at the same time, it would be unfair to blame all madrassas,” he said, calling for reforms to prevent such incidents from reoccurring. Noting his government’s mandate was limited, he said it would nonetheless do what it could to advance such reforms.
“The parents and children are in trauma. I have directed the [Rawalpindi division] commissioner to take care of the education of the victims,” he said, adding the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the prosecution secretary were tasked with ensuring the perpetrators were punished as soon as possible.
According to the district administration, it sealed the madrassa on Sunday, while Chakwal Police said they had secured four days’ physical remand of the two accused teachers to investigate the allegations.
The incident came to light on Friday after a man visited the district police officer with his 10-year-old son and disclosed that the latter had been sexually abused by two teachers at the madrassa he was studying at. Subsequently, a FIR was registered and a police team visited the madrassa, where it found at least 15 students who said they had been abused. Additionally, they said, the suspects would “mark” their victims with a ‘Z’ using a knife. According to authorities, medical examinations have verified these allegations.
Speaking with media, the DPO said parents had informed the madrassa’s management of the abuse a month earlier. However, he said, the management had opted to dismiss the two suspects from service rather than report the matter to police. According to the FIR, the suspects had threatened the victims with “dire consequences” if they informed authorities of the crime.
This is not the first reported case of sexual abuse at madrassas in Pakistan. Two years ago, a video went viral on social media showing a teacher in Lahore assaulting his student; in 2019, a 13-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a cleric in Multan; in 2018, a cleric in Lahore was charged with raping a minor; in 2017, a nine-year-old boy was raped by a cleric in PakPattan; the list goes one. After each incident, lawmakers vow strict action and reforms to ensure the incidents do not reoccur; unfortunately, there has been little progress to match all the promises. Human rights activists warn the reported incidents are a fraction of the actual abuse, noting victims are often pressured to not report the crime.