Pakistan police allege 2 clerics raped boy in seminary

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This is a locator map for Pakistan with its capital, Islamabad, and the Kashmir region. (AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police arrested two Muslim clerics for allegedly raping a 10-year-old boy in a religious school in eastern Punjab province, officials said Sunday.

Chaudhry Imran, a spokesman for the Khanewal district police, said the attack happened Saturday when the boy's uncle went to visit his nephew and arrived to find him being raped by a cleric in a side room of the school while another cleric waited.

Imran said a complaint was filed by the boy's uncle alleging the 10-year-old was abused by two clerics in the seminary where he has been studying for the last year.

Imran said police did an initial investigation and then arrested two suspects. He said the boy was admitted to a local hospital suffering trauma and physical injuries.

The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been sexually abused.

Police would not allow an AP reporter to seek comment from the two clerics citing an ongoing investigation. The two men had not yet found legal representation, police said.

Child sex abuse in Pakistan’s religious schools is prevalent and complaints from parents and relatives rarely lead to the arrest of accused religious clerics.

An investigation by The Associated Press in May 2020 found dozens of police reports alleging sexual harassment, rape and physical abuse by Islamic clerics teaching in madrassas, or religious schools, throughout Pakistan. Many of the students who study in the madrassas are poor.

Many families, overcome by shame and fear that the stigma of being sexually abused will follow a child into adulthood, choose instead to drop the charges or are often coerced into “forgiving” clerics.