‘I know who sexually abused me in a madrassa, will leaders act?’ asks Malayalam filmmaker Ali Akbar
Days after award-winning journalist from Kerala, VP Rajeena made startling revelations about sexual abuse in a madrassa that she had attended as a child; director Ali Akbar has come out recounting similar experiences.
Ali Akbar put up a Facebook post and later told Asianet News that when he was 8 years old, he was sexually abused by an ustad (teacher) at a madrassa in Wayanad’s Meenamgadi. “The ustad chased me in the corridor and tried to rape me. I would classify it as rape only. I was too scared to tell anyone then, and I lived with that agony all my life.”
Akbar’s revelations were made to counter Sunni Muslim leader Kanthapuram Aboobacker Musliyar’s claims that there was no proof of sexual abuse in madrassas and dismissed these as lies.
“I have proof and I am ready to give to Kanthapuram. The ustad who assaulted me is still alive. He is well-respected, and he is a member of a mosque committee. Many ustads from that madrassa have been sacked for the same reasons, but never has a police case been registered against them,” he told The News Minute.
Akbar has challenged Kanthapuram to collect the evidence from him and act against the perpetrator.
“Many people have asked me and even Rajeena why we are talking about this only now. I was 8 years old and most people who are questioning now are unaware that ustads were highly respected and would even be regular houseguests. How is an 8-year-old supposed to tell anyone,” he asks.
So what prompted the film maker to speak up now? “The reactions that Rajeena got forced me to speak up. I am a man and in my case I have proof and I know the perpetrator. So I wanted people to stop saying that Rajeena was lying, there are more cases like this, and I am one of them,” he told TNM.
Unlike Rajeena, Akbar has mostly received good feedback. “I have got many calls from well wishers asking me to carry on the fight. There were few who told me that they too had been victims, but could never speak up. My wife and two children know about this from earlier and they too support me,” he said.
When senior journalist VP Rajeena had recently recalled how 2 ustads in a madrassa in Kozhikode had sexually abused boys and girls in her class, questions had been raised as to why no police complaint had been filed and many had asked her to identify who the assaulters were.
In the Facebook post that became controversial, Rajeena reminisced about an ustad at a Sunni Madrassa in Kozhikode city, who would feel up her male classmates’ private parts.
Sunni leader Kanthapuram has been vociferously advocating segregation of girls and boys in educational institutions and even same-sex teachers for students’ i.e. female teachers for girls and male teachers for boys. His logic states that when people of the opposite sex work together, it can lead to temptation and wrongful acts.
Responding to this, Ali Akbar said that Kanthapuram’s issue was when a woman and a man sit together, but in his case it was a man with a man, so how would this issue be dealt with?
When TheNewsminute had first published Rajeena’s story, a reader wrote to us recounting her experiences at a madrassa. We are publishing it keeping her identity secret.
“Having studied in one Sunni madrassa, I can relate to what she has gone through. We had one ustad who used to pour water inside girls' blouse (those days China silk skirt blouse was the fashion), whenever we read the Quran wrongly at that age, embarrassment was the only feeling. We were all naive to understand that it was "sexual abuse". Maybe they will issue a fatwa against me for saying this, but there is no point in running away from the truth.”