Pakistani police rescued approximately 50 students who had been chained in the basement of a religious school in Karachi, the AFP reported.
The students, some children as young as seven-years-old, previously attended the school and told the AFP they were regularly beaten at the school. The school was equipped with chains, hooks and many basement rooms, which the head of an education federation called “a torture cell,” the AFP reported. At least 18 of those rescued were aged 20 and under.
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The male students said they were beaten, deprived of food and kept in the basement of the school known as the “jail madrasa,” the BBC reported. Some parents paid for their children to go to the school because their sons were either addicted to drugs or had criminal records. The children have been speaking out on their abuse since they were freed, some talking to the media while still wearing chains, the BBC reported.
"I was kept in the basement for the past month and was kept in chains. They also tortured me severely during this period. I was beaten with sticks," said a student, Mohi-ud-Din, the Guardian reported.
At least two people helping run the school have been arrested, the BBC reported. The school headmaster escaped. The BBC reported the police received a tip-off that the head of the seminary kept students chained in the basement, torturing and abusing them. Pakistan’s Interior Ministry has ordered an investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to government statistics, there are over 15,000 madrasas, or Islamic seminaries, in Pakistan education about 2 million students, the LA Times reported. Many parents that send their children to madrasas do so because they cost less than other schools, provide meals and have teachers who show up to class.
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