Home / News / Urgent Appeals / PAKISTAN: A sexual harassment of a 6 year old boy by his teacher

PAKISTAN: A sexual harassment of a 6 year old boy by his teacher

June 18, 2004

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

18 June 2004
------------------------------------------------------------
UA-70-2004: PAKISTAN: A sexual harassment of a 6 year old boy by his teacher

PAKISTAN: Child abuse; Threat to the victim's family
------------------------------------------------------------

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a 6-year-old boy named Talha was allegedly sexually abused by his Quran teacher, Mr. Altaf at the Lajna Mosque on College Road, Green Town, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan on 6 June 2004. Mr. Altaf was arrested and is currently detained at the Kot Lakhpat Jail. However, it is reported that the religious groups are pressuring the boy's family to withdraw the complaint at the Green Town Police Station. Your urgent action is required to pressure the local authorities to ensure justice for the boy's family.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
------------------------------------------------------

DETAILED INFORMATION:

Name of the victim: Talha, (6 years old)
Alleged perpetrator: Muhammad Altaf, a maulvi at the Lajna Mosque
Date of incident: 6 June 2004
Place of the incident: Lajna Mosque on College Road, Green Town, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan

Case details:

On 6 June 2004, a 6-year-old boy named Talha was allegedly sexually abused by his Quran teacher but the religious groups are pressuring the boy's family to withdraw the complaint.

On June 2004, Talha was allegedly assaulted by maulvi (Islamic religious priest) Muhammad Altaf, 26, at the Lajna Mosque on College Road, Green Town. Talha's grandfather, Muhammad Aslam, registered the First Information Report (FIR) at Green Town Police Station against Mr. Altaf under Section 12/7 of the Hudood Ordinances on 7 June 2004.

According to FIR, in the afternoon of 6 June 2004, Talha's mother went to the Lajna Mosque because Talha, who went to the mosque to study, did not come back home at his usual time. When she arrived in the mosque, she found that her son was lying in the corridor. He was bleeding and unconscious.

At that time, Muhammad Altaf was not in the mosque. Talha's family asked help to their neighbors and they took Mr. Altaf into the police custody. Later, Talha clearly identified Mr. Altaf as his attacker in front of Green Town police and gave his statement about the incident. The initial medical report confirmed that Talha was sexually abused. Mr. Altaf is currently detained at the Kot Lakhpat Jail.

However, according to Talha's family, various religious groups, including the Tableeghi Jamaat and Jamia Ashrafia, where Mr. Altaf reportedly studied, are pressuring them to withdraw the case. It is reported that some of their neighbors in Nasir Colony are also pressuring the family to withdraw the charges against Mr. Altaf. The family is worried that the maulvis might threaten the whole community.

In addition, police investigators are allegedly pressured by religious groups, too. According to Mr. Mahmoodul Hassan, the Green Town Investigation Deputy Superintendent of Police, the police called a meeting of the maulvis and the family on 17 June 2004. An investigating officer Aftab Pervez said the police's job was to investigate the case and if the complainants and accused wanted to reach a compromise that was up to them.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter, fax or email to the addresses below and express your deep concern of this case.

Sample letter:

Dear,

Re: PAKISTAN: An alleged sexual harassment of a 6 year old boy by his teacher

Name of the victim: Talha, (6 years old)
Alleged perpetrator: Muhammad Altaf, a Maulvi at the Lajna Mosque
Date of incident: on 6 June 2004
Place of the incident: Lajna Mosque on College Road, Green Town, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan

I am writing to bring to your attention the alleged sexual harassment of 6-year-old boy, Talha by his Quran teacher Muhammad Altaf at the Lajna Mosque on College Road, Green Town, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan on 6 June 2004. Talha's grandfather, Muhammad Aslam, registered the First Information Report (FIR) at Green Town Police Station against Mr. Altaf under Section 12/7 of the Hudood Ordinances on 7 June 2004.

According to the information I have received, Talha clearly identified Mr. Altaf as his attacker in front of Green Town police and gave his statement about the incident. In addition, the initial medical report confirmed that Talha was sexually abused. Mr. Altaf is currently detained at the Kot Lakhpat Jail.

However, Talha's family reported that various religious groups, including the Tableeghi Jamaat and Jamia Ashrafia are pressuring them to withdraw the case. It is alleged that police investigators are pressured by religious groups, too. I urge you to order a thorough investigation into this matter and take appropriate action against the responsible person(s) for the intimidation to the boy's family.

I also urge you to ensure the impartial and prompt investigation into the molestation case of Talha and punish the perpetrator by law. I further ask you to ensure the security of Talha and his family while the investigation is going on.

Sincerely yours,


-------------------------

Send a letter to:

1. General Pervez Musharraf
President
Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835

2. Mr. Chaudhary Pervez Elahi
Chief Minister of Punjab State
30-C, Ch. Zahur Elahi Road,
Gulberg-II, Lahore
Punjab State
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 42 9203162 / 9203162
E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

3. Home Secretary
Government of Punjab
Lahore, Punjab State
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 42 9211734 / 9211735
Fax: +92 42 9211732
E-mail: home@punjab.gov.pk


4. Syed Sultan Shah
Joint Secretary for Law, Justice and Human Rights
Tel: + 92 51 920 3464
Fax: + 92 51 9203119

5. Mrs. Ashifa Riaz Fatyana
Minister for Women Development & Human Rights
Fatiana House, Tehsil Kamalia,
District Toba Tek Singh, Punjab State
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 463 412057 / +92 42 5302244(Res)
E-mail: riazfatyana@hotmail.com

6. Zaman Khan
Complaint Cell
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Aiwan-i-Jahmoor, 107-Tipu Block
New Garden Town, Lahore-54600,
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 42 583-8341, 586-4994
Fax: +92 42 588-3582
E-mail: zaman@hrcp-web

7. Committee on the Rights of the Child
c/o OHCHR ¡§C UNOG, Palais Wilson,
1211 Geneva 10, SWITZERLAND
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022
E-mail: tb-petitions@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-70-2004
Countries :
Document Actions
Share |
Subscribe to our Mailing List
Follow AHRC
Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.