I’d first like to thank people for the immense support in response to the sexual abuse post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on how my Qur’an teacher sexually abused girls in my elementary school. I honestly didn’t expect the kind of support the post received, so I think just by at least willing to hear/read something like this and then openly condemn the culprit (in my case, the qaari/imam/Qur’an teacher) is a huge step in the Muslim community. Sure, there were a couple of angry responses – believe it: someone even said, “Qur’an teachers are human, too, and like everyone else, they make mistakes 🙂 God doesn’t want you to expose someone’s mistakes/sins.” I’ll talk about this reaction in another blog post. One person was upset that I mentioned in the post that my “Qur’an teacher” did that because 1) now non-Muslims will attack Islam even more, and 2) “not all Qur’an teachers do that, all right?!” #NotAllImams, anyone? k) But honestly, everyone else whose response I’ve seen has said some version of: “This is unacceptable! We need to do everything in our power to stop this!” So thank you all for that!
That said, I want to share a couple of the emails and comments I’ve received in response to this. These are people sharing their own experiences of sexual abuse — in all cases by a Qur’an teacher — or something they’ve seen themselves or something their siblings/friends/loved ones have been through. My heart goes out to all victims of sexual abuse, and I wish all peace and strength in coping with it. It comes with scary consequences … another thing we need to talk about more openly: the consequences are real, and they are destructive. This is why it effing is NOT a mere “mistake” to sexually abuse someone and tell people who finally get to the courage to talk about it that “you can’t expose them like this.” They need to be exposed so others, too, learn a lesson.
Speaking of exposure: in case anyone from Swat, Pakistan is reading this and read the last post as well, the name of the qaari in question was Tayyab. I don’t know his last name, and I don’t remember which village he was from. But I know very, very well what he looks like. If you know who I am and if you went to my school as a student, faculty, staff, or were/are otherwise familiar with the school, you’ll know who Tayyab the Qaari was! Anyway … on to other people’s stories now.
The Stories and Responses – Part 1
I’ll dedicate a separate post to a couple of stories at a time. In case anyone’s wondering, I either have these respondents’ direct permission to share these stories, OR I’m pasting their public comments on other posts of mine on sexual abuse. I’ll link to those when as necessary. If you’d like to share anything you know, too, please feel free – my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The person below emailed me a long time ago, back when I first shared the post on another blog. He had three incidents to share, but I’m sharing two because one was not entirely related to sexual abuse or harassment (it’s about how the Qur’an teacher of someone he knows uses curse words while giving lessons to the children, and the children go home using those exact same words). I’m pasting his email verbatim.
1. A Qari [Qur’an teacher] used to tutor my friend’s brother, eight, at their house. He used to teach him inside a room with the door closed. The Qari started with random touching and one day it reached to the point where he made the kid sit on his lap while teaching. The boy kept his mouth shut for the fear of punishment, before one day the older brother incidentally went into the room looking for something. Instead of going to the police he gathered a few people and they brutally beat up the molvi, who later started sending written threats to their house.
My advice: If someone has home tuition for their kids, make sure that they are sitting in an open area (drawing room) where people keep passing by every now and then.
- A friend of mine and I were coming back from the market when we saw a Molvi struggling to lift a sack onto his motorbike seat, my friend helped him out. The molvi took the friends face in his hands kissed him and whispered in his ear “Nono kharri hogaee hai?”. Then he asked him to ride with him on the bike to the market as the sack may fall again, but we refused and ran away. We were 13 years old.
My advice: Teach your kids never to try being heroes by helping strangers out, unless it is a matter of someone’s life.