Sex in the Madrassas?


There's a scandal in Pakistan that has gotten almost no press attention here: According to the BBC, a minister in that country's religious affairs department says that there have been 500 complaints this year involving allegations of child sex abuse committed by clerics in religious schools, or madassas.

There are some 10,000 such schools in Pakistan, and the alleged incidents involve only a small number. Still, scholar Irfan A. Khawaja thinks the story could be to Pakistan what the Catholic priest scandals have been to the U.S., and that the charges even have the potential to delegitimize the madrassas. Khawaja cautions that there's always a chance that the Pakistani government might have a role in such a scandal in order to advance its own agenda.

Khawaja is a contributor to the Web site of the Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society; his recent discussion of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism and its apology for 9/11 appeared earlier this month.