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Sexual abuse at madrassas: Report

The report said children studying in 700 madrassas were "at significant" risk of abuse, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2006 19:06 IST
Vijay Dutt

Some madrassas in Pakistan have been accused of nurturing terrorists and suicide bombers, but the charge by Muslim leaders in Britain that up to 100,000 of schoolchildren from the community are being exposed to physical and sexual abuse by their religious teachers here every year, has shocked the authorities.

The report into the Islamic education system in this country said the Muslim children studying in 700 Britain's madrassas were "at significant" risk of abuse. It said up to 40 per cent of teachers in the madrassas hit or scold their pupils and between 15-20 cases of sex abuse occur every year, which are generally suppressed.

Of the 700 madrassas almost a half use unlawful corporal punishment to discipline pupils, the report said. The potential scale of the abuse has led to fears among Muslim leaders in Muslim Parliament of Great Britain (MPG) that mosque-based schools will face the kind of child abuse claims that has recently scandalised the Roman Catholic Church.

Ghayasuddin Sidiqui of the MPG said that local imams are not taking their duty to protect children seriously and exposing young boys and girls to lasting hurt.

Dr Sidiqqui has urged the Government to establish a national registration scheme for madrassas, co-ordinated centrally and monitored by local authorities, to meet their legal obligations under The Children Act 1989. "Sweeping the issue of child abuse in UK madrassas under the carpet is not a solution. If nothing is done now we may face an avalanche of child sex-abuse scandals, decades afterwards, similar to those that had rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the 1990s."

Ann Cryer MP, praising MP's stand said failing to protect the children in madrassas because of "cultural sensitivities" was nonsense.

First Published: Mar 22, 2006 19:02 IST