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Abuse in seminaries

There have been numerous cases of sexual abuse and sodomy in seminaries. However, the case of Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman is rather different as the cleric was filmed committing the indecent act. Yet, the failure to arrest him and the deafening silence of the religious community has raised grave concerns.

Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman, who also belongs to a political party, was caught on camera sexually assaulting his student. The act was filmed as the student wanted evidence as others supposedly didn’t believe him during earlier incidents. The seminary took the least action by firing the cleric from the institution without taking any action while the party has just revoked his membership. The video was leaked on social media, leading to an outpour of condemnation and calls for action.

What is more surprising is that the cleric went on to issue a justification for his immoral act, claiming that he was intoxicated and the incident was an attempt to defame him. The audacious statement to defend himself turned against him. However, it may be short-lived as media attention may turn away and the matter could be brushed aside.

It is also been known that the student, who went through the painful ordeal, is being victimized and blackmailed. He has reportedly gone in hiding after facing death threats. The cleric himself with his sons is supposedly being protected by his supporters and police are on a manhunt to arrest him. It needs to be seen if the authorities will take any credible action.

The incident has once again raised concerns over the prevalence of such practices in seminaries and the lack of action. Such incidents are seldom reported or there is no evidence against powerful clerics who manage to get away with it. There is now irrefutable proof that cannot be denied. Thus, it is the responsibility of authorities to take complete action.

More defaming is the silence of the religious community who have not condemned the cleric but have merely issued statements and call for an investigation. The civil society also has muted response this time around. We need to ensure that such incidents are not tolerated either in seminaries where religious education is being imparted or in our society.