Woman journalist threatened for describing sexual abuse in a Kerala madrassa – Haritha John

Rajeena's Facebook Profile

Haritha John“Ever since Rajeena put up the Facebook post, she was at the receiving end of a barrage of abuses and threats, forcing her to write another post in which she declared that despite everything, she would remain fearless.” – Haritha John

On 22 November, a senior journalist working with a prominent Malayalam newspaper wrote a poignant post on her Facebook account about sexual abuses her classmates had to face in a madrassa years ago. For more than 24 hours now, journalist VP Rajeena’s Facebook account has been blocked, and she continues to receive threats.

In the Facebook post that became controversial Rajeena reminisced about an ustad or teacher at a Sunni madrassa in Kozhikode city, who would feel up her male classmates’ private parts. She described how young boys in the class would be summoned by the ustad and asked to unzip their shorts. Rajeena said that even as the boys squirmed, the girls too were left embarrassed and shocked. The ustad would then tell the boys that he was only checking the size, she wrote. She also talked about how such experiences were spread out across her six years of education at the madrassa and even the girls in her class were not spared. The journalist also alleged that another ustad who was above 60 years would move around the class during power cuts and sexually abuse minor girls.

Ever since Rajeena put up the Facebook post, she was at the receiving end of a barrage of abuses and threats, forcing her to write another post in which she declared that despite everything, she would remain fearless.

“Curses… Abuses… Venom spewing… Let everything befall on me. But I am least afraid because Allah is with me. And so, even if the whole world turns against me, I will not fear. It is becoming clearer that whatever I did was the correct thing. Even my life is at stake. History is replete with such stories of annihilation of voices that dissent. I am ready to face that.” (Translated by Firstpost).

“After I put up the Facebook post my account was blocked for some time and it later came back. But from Wednesday morning it was blocked again and has not been reinstated by Facebook,” Rajeena told The News Minute (at the time of writing this on Wednesday night Rajeena’s Facebook account was still blocked, but the account was restored on Thursday morning.)

Rajeena's FB Post

Rajeena believes she is being targeted for various reasons.

“I am a woman, a Muslim woman that too and a journalist, so such a revelation from me was unacceptable for many. What should have led to a healthy debate on child sexual abuse has [degenerated] to a fight against me. I have been called an anarchist and someone with an agenda to defame a particular religion,” she said.

Read some disgusting comments that Rajeena got for her post, which show how rotten some people are.

Many prominent voices in Kerala like V. T. Balram, M. A. Baby, Sarah Joseph and B. R. P. Bhaskar have come out asking for Rajeena’s Facebook account to be restored and for a sane discussion on madrassas and other educational institutions. Read what they have to say here. – The News Minute, 25 November 2015

V. P. Rajeena

V. P. Rajeena is a Ramnath Goenka awardee. She has vowed to come out with more disclosures on sexual abuse and misconduct in madrassas through social media.

V. P. Rajeena interviewed by A. Mili in The New Indian Express

Q: You belong to an orthodox middle-class Muslim family in Malabar and studied in a madrassa run by a particular faction? Where there any religious or political reasons that prompted you to make such a post?

A: I am not a follower of any political party, and as many people claim I am not a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Though, I work for a newspaper which subscribes to that ideology, you cannot associate me with a particular ideology. I have specified in my post that the madrassa referred to was E. K. Samastha Sunni madrassa for better clarification. The divide among the separate groups of Sunnis is so deep that a less lucid post could lead to further divide among the public.

Q: There is nothing new in your post. There have been sexual abuse cases involving madrassa teachers. Then why did you make such a disclosure now?

A: I was patiently waiting for the opportune time. India is facing a major threat from communal fascist forces. Religious intolerance has grown to such a level that even girls and boys are not allowed to sit together in classes. The major criticism against me was that I gave the communal forces a reason to criticise the Muslims again. See, my point is that, in order to fight the communal fascist elements, we must be clean. We should be tolerant enough to face criticism. It is the intolerant clerics, who have given enough fodder to those flaying Muslims. Had they reacted in a healthy manner, the discussion would have brought in a sea change in the community.

Q: What next? Are you planning to move ahead with the crusade for gender equality or are you withdrawing following the online attack?

A: I am part of a progressive group of Muslim women, who want to usher in change in  society. We have issues pertaining to divorce and dowry within the community. There are many questions to be answered like, where should the girl go after the divorce, what is her status? Who should she remarry? And coming to the dowry system, it is a larger context to be discussed in the society. There is no gender inequality in the religion. It is the clerics who create the divide. Those, who threatened me, are a large group of men moulded by the clerics.

Q: Unfortunately, no major political party came to your rescue, especially the secular parties. Why?

A: I got the backing of many activists and writers. B. R. P. Bhaskar, singer Shahabaz Aman, director Ashiq Abu, critic Abdul Kareem Uttalkandiyil, Rekha Raj and many other online activists supported me. I have not faced any issues from the media organisation where I am working. I am getting the support of a majority, who are not active on Facebook. This is a positive sign. We are getting more energy to work for the better.

Q: Are you planning to bring the offensive comments to the attention of Cyber Cell?

A: We are taking the screenshots of the offensive comments and will approach Cyber Cell if needed. I am scouring all the comments on my FB wall. This is not the first time a woman has been harassed online for expressing her bold views. – TNIE, 28 November 2015

» Haritha John reports for The News Minute in Kochi, Kerala.
» Anupama Mili reports for The New Indian Express in Malappuram, Kerala.

V. P. Rajeena

Though Hindus support V. P. Rajeena, she has joined the specious intolerance debate created by the secularists and has adopted their abusive terminology!

4 Responses

  1. After journalist Rajeena, filmmaker Ali Akbar says he was also a victim of abuse in madarsa – Shaju Philip – The Indian Express – Thiruvananthapuram – Nov 29, 2015

    Challenging the claim of Sunni Muslim leader Kanthapuram Aboobacker Musliyar that Kerala madrasas were free from sexual abuse, a Malayalam film director said he was exploited by an ustad (teacher) during his madrasa life.

    Film director Ali Akbar alleged that a teacher had sodomized him when he was studying there in class four. “That madrasa was run by Kanthapuram Musliyar. If Musliyar is willing to look into the issue, I am ready to give the details of the ustad,’’ said Akbar.

    After Muslim woman journalist V P Rajeena disclosed about how ustads used to abuse girls and boys in her madrasa days, the social media has witnessed debate on madrasa life. Joining the debate, many had come forward to share on how they were exploited in madrasas.

    Akbar said the entire students in his class had been sexually abused by the ustad. “The sexual exploitation of children in madrasas is still going on. But, nobody is ready to speak out against the abuse out of fear. When leaders like Kanthapuram Musliyar are heading the madrasa education system in Kerala, who would dare to complain against an ustad,’’ asks Akbar.

    The film director said after the incident, he never attended madrasa. “That incident of abuse, happened in early 1970’s, haunted me for several years. Hence, I had decided against sending my children in madrasa,’’ said Akbar.

    He said the Muslim students are forced to experiment with sex, particularly homosexuality, at an early age mainly because of the exploitation from ustads. “After the experience from ustad, many students start abusing their classmates. I had also faced such situations. Ustads create curiosity about sex in their class about whudu (ablution). After that, it is easy to trap children,’’ said Akbar.

  2. i quote her :

    “i was patiently waiting for the opportune time. India is facing a major threat from communal fascist forces. religious intolerance has grown to such a level that even girls and boys are not allowed to sit together in classes. ……………….. see, my point is that, in order to fight the communal fascist elements, we must be clean.we should be tolerant enough to face criticism”

    i really don’t understand what she means by that !
    does anybody ?

    • See the caption below the last photo on the page above.

      Under pressure from the mullahs and leftists, Rajeena is transferring attention away from the sexual abuse in the madrassas to the specious intolerance debate. Loaded terms like ‘communalist’ and ‘fascist elements’ are allusions to the Modi government and Hindu activists who are identified as such by the Congress and Communist political secularists, and award-returner Sarah Joseph, who support her cause (they are in the photo collage with her).

      She is a very clever propagandist.

      Definitely she deserves the Ramnath Goenka award!

      But she is also a politicised journalist to be watched closely!

  3. this is intolerance.

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