The 50 boys who were rescued from a dungeon in a madrassa in Pakistan's Karachi city will bear the scars for life, said a daily as it sought checks on the thousands of seminaries that operate in the country.
An editorial in the News International said that stories of horrendous abuse at madrassas continue to come in.
"The perpetrators are sometimes arrested and, nothing happens - until precisely the same sequence of events is repeated, once again," it said.
Referring to the Karachi incident, it quoted initial accounts to say that the boys have been tortured and subjected to sexual abuse. During the police raid, the boys were found chained.
"Similar accounts of trapped, abused and terrified boys have surfaced before - in Multan, in parts of interior Sindh, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and elsewhere. It is frightening to consider how many other cases remain unreported and unheard of," it said.
It added that madrassas are "after all the fastest growing sector in our education system and, unlike all other kinds of schools, they have been able to resist inspections, checks or monitoring of any kind. This is a situation akin to disaster, and it obviously leads to the kind of crime we have seen in Karachi".
Noting that the affected children "will bear the scars for life", the editorial said the situation needs to be tackled on a wide scale.
"Thousands of seminaries operate everywhere - the vast majority unregistered and unregulated. Some way needs to be found to place checks on them..."
At a broader level, it said, "we need to consider why seminary schools are multiplying so rapidly and whether we should be doing far more to salvage our public-sector education system and make it a viable option for parents - so as to prevent the growing drift towards madrassas where the quality and content of education are uncontrolled, as is the environment children are taught in".