Religious schools still in denial over abuse


PETALING JAYA: Certain schools exploit the “religious” element to entomb abuse and rape cases, says a parents’ group.

According to Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, some religious schools try to hide abuse cases happening within their grounds in order to protect their reputation and standards.

“There are schools which are still in denial. Just because they are ‘religious’, it does not mean that abuse and sexual harassment can never occur within their premises,” Azimah said.

She added that such schools might even prefer to side with the teachers instead of the students.

“There are school principals who will either back them up or dilly-dally when such abuse happens,” she said.

More worrying, Azimah said, was the fact that some parents do not even listen to their children when such cases happen, especially when it involves religious schools.

“Due to the fact that these parents uphold and trust the credibility of certain religious institutions, they refuse to listen to their kids,” she said.

She further stressed that abuse and sexual harassment can happen in any school institution and religious schools were not exempted.

Recently, it was reported that a teacher at a religious school had been detained by police for allegedly molesting six students since 2014.

It is known that the suspect was arrested following six reports lodged by parents and guardians of the alleged victims last Thursday.

Based on the victims’ statements, they had been molested by the teacher, aged 29, when they were at the school, which is under the purview of the Selangor government, he said.

Police said the parents and guardians of the alleged victims decided to lodge police reports as no action had been taken by the school despite them having reported the matter the previous week.

It was reported that the victims, aged 11 and 12, refused to tell anyone about the matter because they were embarrassed and feared being scolded by the suspect.

The suspect is currently in remand for four days until Monday.

Meanwhile, since the case of an 11-year old religious school (Tahfiz) student Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi was highlighted, many students have started to come out and report about their abuse in order to seek justice.

Thaqif, who was allegedly beaten by an assistant warden, died last month.

In a separate abuse case, another 11-year-old boy claimed that a religious teacher in a private religious boarding school had abused him and threatened him with more punishment if he complained to his parents.