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Ending a culture of abuse

  • Published at 11:57 pm April 19th, 2019

It is up to madrasas now to earn back the trust of parents and citizens

If the events surrounding the death of 18-year-old student Nusrat Jahan Rafi have highlighted anything, it is that numerous madrasas in our country have, for the longest time, suffered from an endemic culture of abuse, lacking accountability and oversight.

Madrasas, for many children in our country, are the source of religious guidance and education, and as such, they are entrusted with taking care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

But the fact remains, this trust is all too often broken by the ones in charge of protecting these children. 

It is up to madrasas now to earn back the trust of parents and citizens -- these institutions should open themselves up to being held to the same standards as all other schools and colleges, and that means zero tolerance for any kind of physical or sexual abuse. 

While we appreciate the Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board’s decision to issue a new set of guidelines to protect its female students and prevent sexual harassment, in the long run, this will not be enough. 

For example, the new draft proposes implementing biometric systems, and prevents male madrasa teachers from calling female students to their office rooms. 

These superficial measures do little to directly address the deeply rooted systemic abuse that persists within such institutions and affects students of both genders, evidenced by the recent case of a madrasa teacher confessing to raping one of his male students. 

Teachers, be they in madrasas or elsewhere, have a solemn responsibility towards our children. They should be punished to the fullest extent of the law when they abuse their positions.