Malaysia’s Islamic Schools Face Festering Problems: Sex Abuse, Unsafe Conditions, Exposure To Extremism – Analysis

As Malaysia’s ethnic Malays have increasingly turned to traditional Malay Islamic schools, known as pondoks or Tahfiz schools, the fact that they are largely unregulated is allowing problems to fester, including unsafe conditions, exposure to extremist teachings and especially child sexual abuse by ustazes, or teachers.

Almost 1,000 new pondoks have opened over the past six years. However, there are no reliable figures on how many there are because many are not registered. They escape Federal Ministry of Education supervision because Islamic education is a responsibility of individual states. Registered and unregistered pondoks number into the thousands with an estimated 150,000 students, some from neighboring countries of Indonesia and Thailand. This represents about 6 percent to 7 percent of Malaysia’s total secondary student population.

In recent times concerns have grown that pondoks incubate extremist teachings. A number have been closed by police although it is rarely reported. In one reported case, local and foreign Ustazes found at a pondok in the state of Perlis were found to have connections with terrorist organizations. There have also been several fires, with one claiming 21 lives. Severe canings have resulted in loss of life and torture reported.

Yet one of the areas of biggest concern in pondoks and Tahfiz schools is child sexual abuse. The problem has been around a long time with only a few cases reaching the notice of authorities but:

  • In mid-2018 a 21 year old ustaz was charged for allegedly having oral sex with a 14 year old boy. The ustaz asked the boy numerous times and eventually the boy had given in because he didn’t want to disappoint or upset his teacher.
  • The principal of another pondok in Kepong was charged for allegedly sodomising nine of his students. A hostel warden in Kangar was arrested for allegedly sodomising two students and molesting three others and absconded while on bail. The warden was eventually caught and sentenced to 228 years jail and 42 strokes of the rotan after pleading guilty to 25 counts of sodomy and gross indecency against five Tahfiz school students. An ustaz was arrested and charged with allegedly fondling the genitals of a 10 year old boy while he was reciting the Qu’ran.
  • In Kuantan, a school volunteer was charged with 38 counts of sodomising and molesting young boys at a Tahfiz school.

All of the above cases were only reported after the boys returned home and told their parents, after which police reports were made against the teachers and wardens.

Pondoks are perfect places for Ustazes to groom their victims. Students are vulnerable as they believe the school is a holy place and hold their teachers in an extremely high regard. The inclination of students is to please their teachers. Malaysia has the highest power-distance culture in the world in which a leader’s position at the top of the hierarchy is accepted without question. This high power-distance culture means students can easily fall vulnerable to paternalistic leaders and obediently comply.

Education Department Will Review Anti-Male Bias At University Of North Carolina

More than one year ago, a federal complaint was filed against the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, alleging systemic anti-male bias in their policies and procedures relating to campus sexual assault as well as their hiring practices.

The complaint was filed by the National Coalition for Men Carolinas (NCFM), which argued the UNC system deprived male students and employees of due process rights. For more than a year, NCFM Carolinas president Greg Josefchuk exchanged emails with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in an attempt to get the office to make a determination on whether or not it would move ahead with an investigation. On Friday, the organization finally received a formal decision.

OCR dismissed claims that the UNC system engages in systemic bias in its Title IX processes that determine whether a student (almost always a male) violated the school’s policies regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment. The office also dismissed the claim that UNC has an anti-male bias in its hiring practices.

The office will, however, explore NCFM’s claim that UNC’s policies are biased against male students. The office will open a formal investigation into this matter against Appalachian State University and UNC-Asheville. OCR said it would not investigate this claim at UNC-Chapel Hill because it already had a similar investigation open.

Chapel Hill has been the setting of some of the most prominent — and unlikely — accusations against male students. Andrea Pino has become famous for her often changing allegations that the school didn’t investigate her accusation (which she made anonymously with a limited description of the alleged assailant) and didn’t treat her well after she made her claim (which came after she tried to drop a class and was told she couldn’t).

In 2016, UNC football player Allen Artis was accused of raping Delaney Robinson. At a press conference about the accusation, Robinson’s attorney produced a manipulated photo that appeared to show bruises on her client’s neck. The original photos showed these were simply hickeys. The charges against Artis were dropped last summer.

The College Fix detailed Josefchuk’s dealings with OCR in an article published on February 22, 2019. At times, Josefchuk’s emails to OCR were simply ignored. When they were answered, senior OCR attorney Sara Clash-Drexler would say they were still evaluating his complaint. In one email, from November 2018, Clash-Drexler told Josefchuk, “I have made others aware of your frustration, and I will be sure to update you as soon as I am able.”

By February, when the article was written, Josefchuk hadn’t heard anything from OCR since December. Emails and voicemails were unanswered. In one email, Josefchuk said NCFM Carolinas was “now asking our friends in Congress to look into this matter.”

In a statement to The Daily Wire, Josefchuk praised OCR for finally accepting his organization’s complaint:

We are delighted that after 1 1/2 years from our filing that OCR has found our claim that UNC school sexual misconduct policies are biased against accused male students justifiable and will be opening investigations into the Title IX policies and practices at Appalachian State and UNC-Asheville.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is set to release new guidance for schools adjudicating sexual assault complaints that is supposed to include due process rights for accused students.

https://www.dailywire.com/news/48746/education-department-will-review-anti-male-bias-ashe-schow