Clerical Child abuse: Dangerously unquestionable or complicity of silent society?!

In Pakistan, a culture where the clergy is powerful to the extent of unquestionability, the sexual abuse at madrasas is a pervasive and longstanding problem, found in a recent Associated Press investigation. Generally, sexual abuse in Pakistan, particularly clerical child abuse is seldom discussed or even acknowledged in public.

It’s even more seldom prosecuted, according to the investigation based on police documents and dozens of interviews with victims, families, officials and aid groups.

Police are often paid off not to pursue justice against clerics, victims’ families say. A tally of cases of sexual abuse by clerics and other religious officials reported in newspapers over the past 10 years came to 359.

The clergy in Pakistan (a state based on theocratic doctrine since its foundations in 1947) have enjoyed greater amnesties and have been treated as an inseparable ally of the establishment. Their influence and control over the sociopolitical strata of Pakistan and status as the strategic assets of the state in internal as well as diplomatic matters have been impregnable since the Afghan war. Thousands of madrassas operating under the permission and supervision of state has not only incurred a huge cultural impact upon the social and political thought but has also endowed them with the sense of moral authority and superiority upon the local opposition. One of such cases is the ongoing sit-in in Islamabad against the government’s move to soften the blasphemy laws in the country. Recently a move to abolish child marriages and limit the minimal age to marriage to18 was withdrawn due to mass protests of religious organizations. This is same in the cases of Clerical child abuse where most of the society complicity remains silent and avoids denouncing the so-called religious correctness of the clergy.

As a prevalent phenomenon, the speaking or standing against it is publically considered as a contempt where When some-one’s in a position of authority over another, there’s an enhanced possibility of emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, and/or sexual abuse. Of these, sexual abuse of children and youth are generally considered the most heinous. When the abuser is a cleric – an individual who is expected to act at the highest spiritual and moral level – the public becomes particularly outraged. Such abuse represents a gross violation of trust and a massive misuse of human sexuality by a perpetrator who is supposed to be among the most trustworthy. However, when our society systematically conceals such

cases by keeping mum and failing to condemn them, they’re as good as complicit.