A hidden world of intercourse abuse and exploitation by males working as “non secular healers” has been uncovered by BBC Arabic.
Religious therapeutic, often known as “Quranic therapeutic”, is a well-liked follow within the Arab and Muslim world. It’s principally ladies who go to healers – believing that they will resolve issues and remedy sickness by expelling evil spirits often called “jinn”.
Testimonies gathered by the BBC from 85 ladies, over a interval of greater than a 12 months, named 65 so-called healers in Morocco and Sudan – two international locations the place such practices are notably widespread – with accusations starting from harassment to rape.
We spent months talking to NGOs, courts, attorneys and ladies, gathering and verifying tales of abuse. An undercover reporter who underwent remedy with one such healer for our investigation, was herself inappropriately touched earlier than fleeing the scene.
Warning: Readers could discover among the particulars beneath distressing.
Dalal (not her actual title) sought remedy for despair from a non secular healer in a city close to Casablanca a number of years in the past, when she was in her mid-20s. She says the healer informed her the despair was brought on by a “jinn lover” who had possessed her.
At a one-to-one session he requested her to scent a scent he mentioned was musk – however which she now believes to have been some type of drug, as a result of she misplaced consciousness.
Dalal, who had by no means had any sexual expertise earlier than, says she woke to search out her underwear had been eliminated, and realised she had been raped. She says she started screaming on the raqi (Quranic healer), asking him what he had carried out to her.
“I mentioned: ‘Disgrace on you! Why did you do that to me?’ He mentioned: ‘To make the jinn depart your physique.'”
She says she did not inform anybody what occurred, as she was so ashamed and was certain she can be blamed. When she found a number of weeks later that she was pregnant, she was terrified.
She even considered taking her personal life.
When she informed the healer concerning the being pregnant, he replied that the jinn will need to have impregnated her. Dalal says she was so traumatised by her expertise that when her child was born, she refused to take a look at her, maintain her, and even give her a reputation, and gave her up for adoption.
She informed us that if her household came upon what had occurred to her, they’d kill her.
Most of the ladies we spoke to mentioned they feared they themselves can be blamed in the event that they reported their abuse, and subsequently only a few had informed their households, not to mention the police. Some mentioned in addition they nervous that reporting what had occurred would possibly provoke the jinn to take revenge on them.
In Sudan, a lady named Sawsan informed us that when her husband left the household residence to stay with a second spouse – as is his proper beneath Sharia (Islamic regulation) – she discovered herself destitute, and approached a healer for assist. She mentioned she hoped he might give her some type of medication for her husband which might make him deal with her higher.
However she was not anticipating his instructed remedy.
“He mentioned he would have intercourse with me and use the ensuing physique fluids to concoct a potion I ought to feed to my husband.”
His advice instructed he was “fearless”, she mentioned.
“He was assured I might not report him to the police or the courts and even my husband.”
Sawsan says she left the session instantly and by no means returned. She didn’t report his behaviour.
Three of the 50 ladies we spoke to in Sudan about exploitation or abuse named the identical spiritual chief – Sheikh Ibrahim. One of many ladies, who we aren’t naming, mentioned he manipulated her into having intercourse with him. One other, Afaf, informed us she needed to push him off her when he requested to have intercourse together with her. She mentioned she felt powerless.
“Folks do not settle for that sheikhs say and do these items. They do not consider it. How can I discover witnesses? No-one noticed me within the room with him.”
So, an undercover journalist working with our group agreed to go to Sheikh Ibrahim in a bid to gather extra proof.
The reporter, who we’re calling Reem, posed as a consumer affected by infertility.
Sheikh Ibrahim mentioned he would say a prayer for her, and ready a bottle of “therapeutic water” – often called “mahayya” – for her to take residence and drink.
Reem says he then moved to sit down extraordinarily near her, and put his hand on her abdomen. When she requested him to take his hand away, she says, he merely moved it down her physique, over her garments, to her genitals. She ran from the room.
“I used to be actually shaken by him,” she informed us afterwards. “He had a worrying look about him.”
She says she felt that his method instructed this was not the primary time he had behaved on this method.
The BBC questioned Sheikh Ibrahim about what had occurred to Reem. He denied that he sexually harassed or assaulted ladies searching for his assist, and abruptly ended our interview.
One girl who’s providing an alternative choice to those that would love non secular therapeutic, with out the chance of exploitation, is Sheikha Fatima.
Primarily based close to Khartoum, she has opened a female-only therapeutic centre. For 30 years, this has been one of many few locations the place ladies can expertise ruqyah or therapeutic from different ladies.
We got distinctive entry to this personal area. Throughout our go to, it was intense watching ladies round me dropping all consciousness of their environment. Sheikha Fatima tells me how ladies might be susceptible on this state, which permits different healers to benefit from them.
“Many ladies informed us that they believed the sheikh is extracting the satan by touching them. They thought it was a part of the remedy,” she says. “It is surprising what you hear from these ladies.”
We approached political authorities in each Morocco and Sudan with our proof.
In Sudan, Dr Alaa Abu Zeid, head of the household and society division on the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, was initially reluctant to consider that so many ladies had reported experiences of abuse to us. However he did admit that the shortage of regulation in non secular therapeutic meant that it was “inflicting chaos”, and that the position was getting used as “a occupation for individuals who haven’t any job”.
He informed the BBC that he had explored its regulation previously, however that the nation’s political instability meant it was not at present a precedence.
In Morocco, Minister of Islamic Affairs Ahmed Toufiq mentioned he didn’t consider there was a necessity for any separate laws relating to non secular healers.
“It’s arduous to intervene legally in these issues. The answer lies in spiritual schooling and preaching,” he informed us.
Regardless of all of the proof now we have gathered, Moroccan and Sudanese authorities are reluctant to take motion. So the burden stays on ladies to talk up towards these hiding behind a therapeutic occupation.