Children as young as six

Update: The story is from 2011. I blogged it then.

The BBC reports an incredibly depressing situation in the UK.

Britain’s madrassas have faced more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in the past three years, a BBC investigation has discovered.
But only a tiny number have led to successful prosecutions.

The revelation has led to calls for formal regulation of the schools, attended by more than 250,000 Muslim children every day for Koran lessons.

That’s a lot of children. And – every day? That’s a lot of time, too. And the “lessons” are just memorization of the Koran in Arabic – they’re about the most futile time-wasting kind of “lessons” it’s possible to have.

And on top of that they’re abused.

BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 asked more than 200 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales how many allegations of physical and sexual abuse had come to light in the past three years.

One hundred and ninety-one of them agreed to provide information, disclosing a total of 421 cases of physical abuse. But only 10 of those cases went to court, and the BBC was only able to identify two that led to convictions.

421 cases, 10 prosecutions, 2 convictions. 2 out of 421.

Some local authorities said community pressure had led families to withdraw complaints.

In one physical abuse case in Lambeth, two members of staff at a mosque allegedly attacked children with pencils and a phone cable – but the victims later refused to take the case further.

In Lancashire, police added that children as young as six had reported being punched in the back, slapped, kicked and having their hair pulled.

In several cases, pupils said they were hit with sticks or other implements.

All in aid of memorizing a “holy” book in a language they don’t know.

Nazir Afzal, the chief crown prosecutor for the North West of England, said he believed the BBC’s figures represented “a significant underestimate”.

“We have a duty to ensure that people feel confident about coming forward,” he said.

“If there is one victim there will be more, and therefore it is essential for victims to come forward, for parents to support them and for criminal justice practitioners to take these incidents seriously.”

Corporal punishment is legal in religious settings, so long as it does not exceed “reasonable chastisement”.

What? Corporal punishment is legal in religious settings? Why? Why is religion allowed to assault people when no one else is?

What a sick mess.

H/t Gina Khan

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