An FIR (first information report) was recently registered against Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman of Lahore’s Jamia Manzoorul Islamia over charges of unnatural offenses (sodomy) and criminal intimidation. Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman’s video went viral on social media in which he can be seen sexually assaulting one of his students.

The young student taped the incident on video to prove how he was being raped on a regular basis by the mufti and the madrassa administration refused to believe him when he complained about the sexual abuse. The student, who is in hiding because he has been receiving death threats from Mufti Aziz and his sons, said this had been going on for more than three years. In the disturbing video of sexual assault, the student later says that he is contemplating suicide. Mufti Aziz and his sons are on the run and have not yet been arrested.

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Mufti Aziz has been expelled from the seminary and his title of a religious scholar has been stripped off by the Wafaq-ul-Madaris. When the disturbing video did the rounds on social media, only then was the matter highlighted and action taken against Mufti Aziz. The young student was able to record a video of this heinous crime but what about those students and young children who are unable to record such incidents? This is not just about seminaries but schools and other places in the country. As per Sahil, an NGO that works on child protection and child sexual abuse, 2,960 cases of child abuse were reported across Pakistan in 2020. This is just the tip of the iceberg as many cases of child abuse and sexual assaults and rape are either never reported, or the survivors’ and victims’ are blackmailed, their families pressurised. In some cases, reports indicate that the police are bribed or such cases are settled out of court even though this is not legally allowed.

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We saw extreme outrage over Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai’s innocent remarks about marriage in a recent interview. The matter was even discussed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and she was asked to clarify her comments. Where is this indignation now in the case of Mufti Aziz? Why are we not outraged that a young boy was repeatedly raped by his teacher? Why are we not talking about how such cases are overlooked most of the time and how our society reacts to fake videos of Aurat March versus a legit video of sexual abuse? Even with the evidence out in public, we saw some sickening remarks of how the ‘act’ was ‘consensual’ because the student did not ‘resist’ it. Such insinuations are extremely disturbing because the student has made it quite clear in his statement how he was forced to go through this abuse because of the power dynamics against his will. Why don’t we believe victims and survivors of sexual abuse? This is a sad reflection of how we behave as a society. We need to change this and believe the survivors of abuse. We also need to start teaching our children about good touch and bad touch. It is imperative that we make our children safe from predators.