An imam in the emirate of Ajman has been sentenced to prison for molesting a 12-year-old boy on multiple occasions. 

Investigations revealed that the imam, a 31-year-old Asian national, lured the Arab boy to his room after prayer and assaulted him about nine times, Khaleej Times reported on Tuesday.

According to media reports, the issue was brought to light after the victim's mother noticed her son was coming home late after praying at the small privately-owned mosque located in Al-Jurf 2 area.

After his mother inquired about the reason behind the delays, the victim revealed that the imam used to offer him money after prayers and take him to his room near the mosque. The boy went to the imam's house about nine times, with a forensic report confirming the former was subject to sexual assault on multiple occasions.

The Ajman Criminal Court found the imam guilty of molesting the boy and sentenced him to five years in prison, in addition to deportation.

Source: Al Khaleej

The incident follows an alarming phenomenon of sexual assault by religious figures. In 2018, the Dubai Court of First Instance found a Bangladeshi Quran teacher guilty of molesting a 15-year-old Indian girl in the emirate. That same year, a Moroccan imam was charged with raping seven of his female students, aged between seven and 12-years-old, over the course of several years. 

Religious sites have also witnessed several cases of child molestation committed by worshipers. Early in 2018, an Indian man based in Dubai was found guilty of molesting a six-year-old boy at a mosque in the emirate. The man was sentenced to three months in prison followed by deportation.

The UAE has been cracking down on child molesters

Several cases of sexual abuse targeting children have been reported in the nation in recent years. In response to the alarming spike in similar cases, authorities have launched several campaigns in an effort to raise awareness among both parents and young children. 

In one campaign by Dubai Police, officials launched kid-friendly videos aimed at educating children about sexual abuse by providing advice on how to deal with strangers in public areas.

The UAE has also tackled the issue with legislative measures and notably holds anyone who does not report a case of child abuse liable for prosecution.