DHAKA: Bangladeshi police have arrested a religious school’s principal, who is also an imam of a local mosque, for allegedly raping at least a dozen children under his care, an official said on Friday, sparking demonstrations by hundreds of people.
Al Amin, the head teacher and founder of the Baitul Huda Cadet Madrassa at Fatulla outside Dhaka, claimed innocence, saying he was “possessed by Satan”.
Elite police from the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested the teacher on Thursday after the mother of a 10-year-old student filed a rape complaint against him.
Local RAB chief Lieutenant Colonel Kazi Samser Uddin said the young girl watched a TV news report on serious sexual assault and told her mother that the seminary founder “did the same to her”.
“The mother immediately rushed to us with the complaint. Then we arrested the principal,” Uddin said.
The teacher later admitted he forcibly had sexual intercourse with several of his minor students.
“We found he raped and sexually assaulted at least 12 girls in the madrassa,” Uddin said.
Hundreds of local people protested in the town demanding justice and exemplary punishment of the principal, who is also an imam of a local mosque.
The police also last week arrested two high school teachers at a nearby town for allegedly raping 20 students.
Uddin said those teachers have been blackmailing and raping the victims and some of their mothers for the last four years.
Rights groups raised concerns about the spike in the number of rape and sexual assaults in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.
The Manusher Jonno Foundation, a local rights group, published a report early this year saying 433 children were raped in 2018. Most were aged between seven and 12, it said.
Rights groups said “a culture of impunity” is partly to blame for what they say is a rise in sexual violence in the country.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2019