Bangladeshi ex-students speak up about rampant rapes in schools

Dhaka: Former Bangladeshi students are turning to social media to detail allegations of "rampant" sex abuse at the hands of teachers and older pupils in Islamic schools, breaking their silence on a taboo topic in the conservative country.

Child abuse in madrasas has long gone unreported in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation where hardline Islamist groups draw their support from the tens of thousands of schools across the nation of 169 million people.

But in the wake of a brutal murder of a teenage girl who was burnt to death in April after accusing her headteacher of sexual assault, such incidents have been subject to national scrutiny and debate for the first time.

In July alone, at least five madrasa teachers have been arrested on rape charges against boys and girls under their care.

Several senior students were also held by police over the rape and beheading of an 11-year-old orphan, while a Dhaka cleric and seminary teacher was charged with sexually assaulting a dozen boys aged between 12 and 19.

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