Lawyer warns on Muslim faith school child abuse
By Pat Hurst
The Independent (London), October 23, 2011
A leading child abuse lawyer has warned physical and sexual abuse in special Muslim faith schools is going unreported and unpunished.
Richard Scorer, who has acted for many victims of abuse within the Catholic Church, claimed cultural differences are at the heart of the problem, with Muslim families feeling unable to speak out.
A recent BBC Radio 4 investigation using freedom of information legislation showed there have been more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in England, Scotland and Wales in the past three years and 30 allegations of sexual abuse in the last two years.
But only 10 of the physical abuse allegations went to court, leading to two prosecutions and just three sexual abuse cases were pursued in the courts, leading to one prosecution.
Mr Scorer, a partner at Manchester-based law firm Pannone, said he is convinced the true figures are much greater.
“The madrassas or faith schools that young Muslim children and youths attend to learn the Koran after normal school are largely unregulated and extremely difficult to monitor,” he said.
“We know that the number of madrassas is increasing, many in rented rooms and some in living rooms and garages, where it is almost impossible for anyone to know what goes on behind closed doors.
“The recent case of Mohammed Hanif Khan, an Imam jailed for 16 years for the abuse of two boys under his care in Stoke-on-Trent, highlights the problem.
“These boys, aged 12 and 15, were badly abused, the 12-year-old was raped twice, and yet even after Khan’s conviction, the boys’ families are being victimised for speaking out.”