October 19, 2020
Thank you for publishing the above timely article in your esteemed newspaper. While the issue of sexual violence against women and young girls in Bangladesh is getting due attention in the local and social media, and more needs to be done, one thing that remains hidden is the prevalence of regular, systematic and institutional boy rapes that take place in Qawmi madrasas – an autonomous group of residential places of Islamic learning that teaches to recite and memorize the Quran, study the Hadith, learn some Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and not much else. Being completely free of government supervision by insistence, these places have become a religious, social and political force of their own where roughly a third of children in the country study.
What is happening there is nothing short of an epidemic of boy rapes by teachers and older students. This is in addition to the barbaric, physical punishment that is given to them for the flimsiest of reasons. On top of this, madrasa students are taught religiously inspired bile against women. These young boys grow up to be rapists in turn who rape boys, girls and women in adulthood.
Many Bangladeshi industrialists, business people, politicians, celebrities and teachers of general educational institutions are patrons of these madrasas. They become so sometimes to improve their Muslim credentials in society, sometimes to atone for their crimes and ill-gotten wealth. And they use both the teachers and students for their political agenda.
The issue of sexual violence against women and young girls cannot be separated from how Bangladesh is patronizing these institutions. But what is happening in these Qawmi madrasas is a vile phenomenon in its own right, one that needs proper investigation and being brought to light.