08/29/2019, 11.47
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Young Bangladeshi breaks silence over abuses in madrassas: threatened with death

As a child, 23-year-old Hojaifa al Mamduh suffered sexual violence in three schools in Dhaka. He describes the phenomenon of abuse against students as "widespread and unrestrained". Accused of being an "agent of Jews and Christians".

Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - He broke the taboo of speaking about sexual abuse in madrassas (Koranic schools) in Bangladesh on social media, and therefore deserves a "just death". He is the 23 year old Hojaifa al Mamduh, a former student of three Islamic schools in Dhaka.

In July he wrote a series of posts on his Facebook profile in which he describes the "widespread and unbridled carnal violence" suffered by the pupils of the Koranic schools, which he witnessed in first person on his own skin when he was a child.

In Bangladesh, sexual abuse has come to the surface with the case of Nusrat Jahan Rafi. The 19-year-old student was raped by the headmaster of her school in Feni (south-east of the country), who then demanded the withdrawal of the complaint. Faced with the young woman’s refusal, the man drew her through deception to the roof of the school and set her on fire. She died after four days of agony.

Inspired by the courage of the girl, al Mamduh was among the first to uncover the phenomenon of sexual abuse perpetrated by principals and teachers in Islamic religious schools in the country. After him, many former students followed the example and denounced the violence and pressures suffered to maintain silence.

Thanks to this disclosure by abused people, the country has discovered that it is confronted with a very widespread dynamic in the thousands of madrassas scattered all over the territory, where students from poor families mostly study, who would have no other means to send their children to school.

It is precisely poverty and the fear of families that keep secrets for years. Abdus Shahid, head of the Bangladesh Shishu Odhikar Forum which defends the rights of minors, declares that "for years the crimes have evaded the spotlight due to the sensitivity of the topic. Devout Muslims send their children to the madrassas, but they do not talk about the violence because they fear that this could damage religious institutions ".

Now Al Mamduh is accused of being "an agent of Jews and Christians" and of having soiled "the sacred image" of the madrassa. Another user wishes him the end of Avijit Roy, a famous atheist blogger hacked to death with machetes for having denounced Islamic extremism.

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