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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



Miyanna says men should not be allowed to teach girls alone in mosques

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Miyanna was born into a strict Muslim family. 

A teacher at the mosque sexually abused her, but she was afraid she would be punished if she spoke out.

Miyanna’s parents worked hard and she did not see very much of them. She says they were not affectionate with their children.

She and her sister would walk to school and the mosque on their own. At the mosque, there were a number of different teachers. They would call on children to recite the Koran and beat them with sticks if they made mistakes.

When Miyanna was about seven or eight years old, a new male teacher arrived. She thinks he was in his 20s. 

During a lesson, he called Miyanna to the front of the class. She had to sit cross-legged at a low desk, opposite the teacher, and as she was reciting the Koran, he put his hands inside her trousers and knickers and digitally penetrated her.

The teacher abused her several times over the course of weeks or months, ‘as long as he could get away with it when no one could see’. 

Miyanna describes the fear and confusion she felt as a small child. ‘At that time I didn’t know what was happening, and there was always the threat that he would hit me if I did anything wrong’ she says. 

On one occasion, a younger girl was also sitting at the table and she looked underneath while the teacher was abusing Miyanna. The teacher told the other girl to stop looking.

Miyanna didn’t feel she could tell anyone as the teachers were so well-respected. She thought that no one would believe her and she would get into trouble. 

The abuse ended when the teacher left the mosque. 

When she was a teenager, Miyanna told one of her friends what the teacher had done, and then a few years later she told a family friend. This person passed the information to her parents. She heard later they had argued about whether to report the teacher to the police, and she thinks that her father did not want to do this.

She says it would have been difficult in their culture ‘because of the stigma of something bad happening to a girl … it's like everything is always the woman’s fault. It’s not her fault but it's the woman who has to live with it’.

She has made a report to a Muslim authority but has not received a reply.

Miyanna describes herself as ‘very strong and independent’ but says the sexual abuse has affected her significantly. She would cry a lot, and has suffered with depression and feelings that she did not want to live. She says she became very anxious and antisocial. ‘The thought of being next to or near a man was disgusting.’

She has ‘a negative attitude towards men in my culture as they see women as objects just for them and their pleasure’.

Miyanna would like to see a change of attitude in the Muslim community. She says ‘Things need to change in the home … sons are still on a pedestal and even if a woman is raped they get blamed’.

She adds that people teaching in mosques, which can be in homes, should be subject to safeguarding checks.  

As she grew up, Miyanna fought hard for her independence so that she could work. She told her mother she didn't want to marry anybody from their culture. She has now begun a relationship and says ‘with him I felt a little bit accepted’.

Miyanna keeps herself busy with volunteering. She says ‘I always have to be doing something and I use my faith a lot to help me’. 

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