KEHRORE PAKKA, Pakistan – An Associated Press investigation has found that sexual abuse is pervasive at Islamic schools in Pakistan.
But in a culture where clerics are powerful and sexual abuse is a taboo subject, it is seldom discussed or even acknowledged in public. It is even more seldom prosecuted. Police are often paid off not to pursue justice against clerics, victims' families say. And cases rarely make it past the courts, which allow the victim's family to "forgive" the offender.
The AP found hundreds of cases of sexual abuse reported over the past decade, and officials suspect there are thousands more. About 22,000 madrassas are registered in Pakistan, and thousands more are unregistered. The madrassa system teaches about 2 million children.