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|Kausar Parveen struggles through tears as she remembers the blood-soaked pants of her 9-year-old son Nike Air Max 270 Femme Pas Cher , raped by a religious cleric. Each time she begins to speak, she stops, swallows hard, wipes her tears and begins again.
The boy had studied for a year at a nearby Islamic school in the town of Kehrore Pakka. In the blistering heat of late April, in the grimy two-room Islamic madrassa Nike Air Max 270 Femme , he awoke one night to find his teacher lying beside him.
"I didn't move. I was afraid," he says.
The cleric lifted the boy's long tunic-style shirt over his head, and then pulled down his baggy pants.
"I was crying. He was hurting me. He shoved my shirt in my mouth," the boy says, using his scarf to show how the cleric tried to stifle his cries. He looks over at his mother.
"Did he touch you?'" He nods. "Did he hurt you when he touched you?" ''Yes Nike Air Max 270 Homme Pas Cher ," he whispers.
"Did he rape you?" He buries his face in his scarf and nods yes.
Parveen reaches over and grabs her son, pulling him toward her, cradling his head in her lap.
"INFESTED" WITH SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse is a pervasive and longstanding problem at madrassas in Pakistan, an AP investigation has found, from the sunbaked mud villages deep in its rural areas to the heart of its teeming cities. But in a culture where clerics are powerful and sexual abuse is a taboo subject Nike Air Max 270 Homme , 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, because Pakistan's legal system allows the victim's family to "forgive" the offender and accept what is often referred to as "blood money."
The AP found hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by clerics reported in the past decade, and officials suspect there are many more within a far-reaching system that teaches at least 2 million children in Pakistan. The investigation was based on police documents and dozens of interviews with victims, relatives Nike Air Max 270 Rose Homme Pas Cher , former and current ministers, aid groups and religious officials.
The fear of clerics and the militant religious organizations that sometimes support them came through clearly. One senior official in a ministry tasked with registering these cases says many madrassas are "infested" with sexual abuse. The official asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution; he has been a target of suicide attacks because of his hard position against militant groups.
He compares the situation to the abuse of children by priests in the Catholic Church.
"There are thousands of incidences of sexual abuse in the madrassas," he says. "This thing is very common, that this is happening."
Pakistan's clerics close ranks when the madrassa system is too closely scrutinized, he says. Among the weapons they use to frighten their critics is a controversial blasphemy law that carries a death penalty in the case of a conviction.
"This is not a small thing here in Pakistan — I am scared of them and what they can do Nike Air Max 270 Rose Homme ," the official says. "I am not sure what it will take to expose the extent of it. It's very dangerous to even try."
His assessment was echoed by another senior official, a former minister who says sexual abuse in madrassas happens all the time. He also doesn't want his name used because he too has survived suicide bombings due to his stance on militants.
"That's a very dangerous topic," he says.
A tally of cases reported in newspapers over the past 10 years of sexual abuse by maulvis or clerics and other religious officials came to 359. That represents "barely the tip of the iceberg," says Munizae Bano, executive director of Sahil Nike Air Max 270 Noir Homme Pas Cher , the organization that scours the newspapers and works against sexual abuse of minors.
In 2004, a Pakistani official disclosed more than 500 complaints of sexual assaults against young boys in madrassas. He has since refused to talk, and there have been no significant arrests or prosecutions.
Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf dismisses the suggestion that sexual abuse is widespread, saying such talk is an attempt to malign the religion, seminaries and clerics. He says he was not aware of even the cases reported in the newspapers Nike Air Max 270 Noir Homme , but that it could occur occasionally 'because there are criminals everywhere." Yousaf says the reform and control of madrassas is the job of the interior ministry.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees madrassas, refused repeated written and telephone requests for an interview.
The case of Parveen's son was one of at least three within a month in the towns of Kehrore Pakka and Rajanpur in Punjab province's deep south, according to police reports. Another incident involved the drugging and gang rape of a 12-year-old boy asleep on his madrassa rooftop by former students. And the third was of a 10-year-old boy sodomized by the madrassa principal when he brought him his meal. The cleric threatened to kill the boy if he told.
The AP is not naming the children because they are victims of sexual abuse.
The fear of clerics was evident at the courthouse in Kehrore Pakka, where the former teacher of Parveen's son waited his turn to go before a judge. A half dozen members of the radical Sunni militant organization Sipah-e-Sahabah were there to support the teacher.
They scowled and moved closer when an AP reporter sat next to the teacher Nike Air Max 270 Blanche Homme Pas Cher , who was shackled to a half dozen other prisoners. The whispers grew louder and more insistent.
"It's too dangerous here," said one person, looking over at the militants nearby. "Leave. Leave the courthouse, they can do anything here."
The teacher had already confessed, according to police Nike Air Max 270 Blanche Homme , and the police report said he was found with the boy. Yet he swore his innocence in court.
"I am married," he said. "My wife is pretty, why would I do this to a k
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