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Pakistan: In a rare judgement, Peshawar cleric gets death sentence for raping a minor girl inside mosque

Qari Saeed based in Peshawar who holds a master’s degree in Islamiyat and leads Friday prayers in his mosque, was found guilty of rape of a minor and was convicted under Section 376(3) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Why should a death sentence for raping a minor be labeled as a rare judgement? As per multiple reports released in the past decade, it has been observed that Islamic schools and mosques in Pakistan have been infested with crimes of sexual abuse of minors. However, seldom has a judgement been given to punish the perpetrator and it is even rare to find formal complaints of sexual abuse in these institutions.

In this one off case, Judge Wadeeya Mustaq Malik ruled that Qari Saeed based in Peshawar who holds a master’s degree in Islamiyat and leads Friday prayers in his mosque, was found guilty of rape of a minor and was convicted under Section 376(3) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The father of the girl had filed a complaint basis which a FIR was registered on the March 14, 2019; exactly two years back. The complainant stated that the girl returned from outside crying and claimed Qari Saeed called her to the mosque on the pretext of giving her an amulet (a good luck charm) but sexually assaulted her in a room there. The convict of course did not accept the charges levied against him and instead blamed the Ahmadi community of plotting against him as he had been openly opposing them.

The girl aged eight, suffered mental and physical anguish and hence the convict has been asked to pay a fine of Rs.3,00,000 in the form of savings which the girl can withdraw at the age of 18.

However, thousands of minors are waiting for justice to be served. A chilling account reported by Associated Press of the rape of a 9-year old boy by a religious cleric in Kahror Pakka of Pakistan is harrowing to say the least. The report suggests that in 2004, a Pakistani official disclosed more than 500 complaints of sexual assaults against young boys in madrassas. Despite scores of reports, very few have resulted in the conviction of a cleric as religious clerics are a powerful group in Pakistan.

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