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News – Child cruelty

October 2008

Child cruelty


A Shia Muslim man was convicted of child cruelty after he forced two boys to flog themselves during a religious ritual in Manchester. The man told the boys, aged 13 and 15, to beat themselves with a zanjeer zani, a wooden-handled whip with five curved blades.

     The implement is used during a ceremony commemorating the death of Hussain, grandson of Muhammad and one of the most important figures in Shia Islam. Manchester Crown Court heard that the man first flagellated himself until his back was cut and bleeding. Others at the event also flogged themselves.

     The 14-year-old, who was 13 at the time, told the jury that neither he nor the other boy wanted to injure themselves but they were pushed and shamed into using the whips, despite repeatedly saying they did not want to. He said the 15-year-old ‘swung it once or twice and said “I don’t want to do it any more”.’ The older boy was then pulled away by another man.

     After the ceremony, the boys went home to their mother, who noticed several deep wounds on their backs and multiple slash wounds. She took them to Manchester Royal Infirmary and the matter was reported to the police.

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