A case has been registered against a renowned religious teacher Mufti Shahid Tariq Madni for sexually assaulting a thirteen-year-old boy at his seminary, Madrassah Dar-ul-Uloom Ghausia Rizvia, in Shakargarh area in Punjab's Narowal district.

According to a report, Irfan Khan, the father of the victim stated that his son was very depressed and in extreme pain after returning home. After a while, he finally disclosed how he had been sexually molested in his room at night by the Mufti and how he had not allowed him to go home.

The father took him immediately to the doctor where the medical examination confirmed what had happened and a case was registered at the Norkot Police Station, the report said.

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There is a lot of pressure from the organization that the Mufti belongs to, to withdraw the case, the report added.

The father also stated that as he is a daily wage labourer and therefore feared that his voice won't be heard.

On September 16, after evening prayers, the cleric forced himself on the boy. "He did not let the teenage boy leave the seminary for three days," the report suggested.

The boy's father has urged the police to arrest the cleric and hold him accountable for his deeds.

A deep-rooted problem

Many such cases of child sexual abuse in religious institutions have been reported in Pakistan in recent times. In May 2020, a 15-year-old boy was raped at a mosque in Gujrat city of Punjab province.

Meanwhile, last December, a cleric Qari Shamsuddin and four others were arrested for abusing a young boy in a madrassa. He was raped over 100 times. In another case, in December 2019, the father of a child registered a case against a local shrine's cleric for abusing his child.

In Peshawar, a cleric was accused of abusing a child in a madrassa. In October 2019, a cleric named Mukhtar Ahmad was arrested for molesting children. The atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan are well documented including many cases of abduction, rape and forced conversion of minor Hindu girls.

Imran Khan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran KhanIANS

Govt's oversight

The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised to modernize the curriculum and make the madrassas more accountable, but there is little oversight.

But the police flips around the matter saying the problem of sexual abuse of children by clerics is pervasive and the scores of police reports that they have received are just the tip of the iceberg. Yet despite the dozens of reports, none have resulted in the conviction of a cleric. Religious clerics are a powerful group in Pakistan and they close ranks when allegations of abuse are brought against one of them. They have been able to hide the widespread abuse by accusing victims of blasphemy or defamation of Islam.