Putting up with bestiality

Madrassas (religious seminaries) in Pakistan are notorious for many reasons; some term them as jihadi nurseries while others lament the indoctrination of extremist views in young, impressionable minds. Around 50 students, adult men and young boys, were freed from a seminary in Karachi recently. They were chained and mistreated by those who ran the madrassa. “I was kept in the basement for the past month and kept in chains. They also tortured me severely during this period. I was beaten with sticks,” said one of the students. Apparently, most of these students were sent there by their families because of their drug addiction or their involvement in criminal activities. This particular madrassa served as some sort of ‘rehab’ centre. This is just the tip of the iceberg as mistreatment, torture, chaining is quite common in seminaries.

Pakistan is teeming with madrassas. While some of them may actually be doing good work, a lot of these seminaries train young men for jihad, suicide bombing and other terrorist activities. Various studies have been conducted to this effect and in the previous regime there was talk of Madrassa reform but nothing much was done to stop this growing phenomenon. What kind of society do we live in where parents send their children to madrassas to be ‘disciplined’ instead of schools? The fault also lies with the public school system. Poor people cannot afford to send their children to schools and prefer sending them to madrassas that offer free boarding, clothing and food. Apart from physical abuse, many madrassa students are also subjected to sexual abuse. Western societies reach out to the victims of abuse, nurture them and rehabilitate them but in Pakistan the exact opposite happens. One, young victims of abuse rarely talk about abuse and two, they are scarred for the rest of their lives. If their families cannot help them, the state and society must come forward and save the future of these children. Have some morality and conscience, please!

(my editorial in Daily Times)


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