Faith-based child abuse is increasing

Faith-based child abuse is increasing

Police in London have investigated almost 30 cases of child abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession in the past year.

According to this report, the investigations range from allegations of children having chilli peppers rubbed in their eyes to rid them of evil spirits to youngsters who were swung around by preachers and had their heads banged in order to drive out the devil.

Other cases reported to the Metropolitan Police include claims that children had been dunked in baths to wash away spirits and were forced to drink noxious liquids to cleanse them in exorcism ceremonies.

But there have also been allegations of ritual sexual abuse with two children claiming they were raped in attacks linked to witchcraft.

In total the Metropolitan Police investigated 27 allegations in the last year, slightly up on previous years, but it is thought to be the tip of the iceberg with many more cases not being reported to the authorities.

A new training film for all front line professionals who work with children has now been produced in order to help the likes of teachers and social workers spot the signs that a child is being abused in the name of witchcraft.

The film will be released at an event being hosted by the Metropolitan Police and the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service.

Police believe much of the abuse is a hidden crime kept within families and within faith communities, particular those from Africa.

Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, from the Met’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said it was important to remember that regardless of cultural and religious sensitivities, child abuse was child abuse.

Abuse linked to belief is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths. A number of high-profile investigations brought the issue of ritual abuse and witchcraft into the headlines but it is important that professionals are clear about the signs to look for.

He added:

Families or carers genuinely believe that the victim has been completely taken over by the devil or an evil spirit, which is often supported by someone who within the community has portrayed themselves as an authority on faith and belief.

Often in the perpetrators’ minds, any abuse is not going to affect the victim because he or she believes the child is effectively not there anymore and the abuse is directed at whatever has possessed the child.

The victim is often convinced that this is the truth and that the abuse is ‘normal’ behaviour.

And he emphasised:

Regardless of the beliefs of the abusers, child abuse is child abuse. Our role is to safeguard children, not challenge beliefs. We investigate crimes against children, but our main aim is to prevent abuse in the first place. This is a hidden crime and we can only prevent it by working in partnership with the community.


Kevani Kanda, above, who was a victim of ritual abuse and went on to present a BBC documentary last year about the issue entitled, “Branded a Witch” (scroll down), said:

As a survivor of ritual abuse I have witnessed at first hand the harm which belief-related abuse can result in.

Globalisation means that paranoia over witchcraft and spirit possession is no longer confined to developing nations. Mass migration has made this a pervasive problem worldwide.

In her highly personal film, Kevani revealed that the practice was worsening.  In countries such as Congo, where she was born, any illness or hardship a family is facing can be blamed on a child being possessed and pastors will point them out in order to receive payment for delivering them from demons.

Kevani witnessed one of these “deliverances”, in which a five-year-old boy is beaten, starved, made to drink hot palm oil and swung by his ankles. And she met two children who were set on fire by their aunt.

She said:

It is not confined to cities or areas where there are large migrant communities. Belief-related abuse can result in significant physical, emotional harm, neglect, sexual abuse and even death.

Project Violet was set up by the Met in 2000 to investigate child abuse cases linked to witchcraft after eight-year-old Victoria Climbié, was murdered in Haringey by her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning.

In 2012 Magalie Bamu, 29, and his partner Eric Bikubi, 28, were jailed for life after torturing and murdering 15-year-old Kristy Bamu, who they claimed was possessed.

Hat tip: Marcus Robinson.

14 responses to “Faith-based child abuse is increasing”

  1. Great Satan says:

    Slightly OT, but heres an article on how fears over witchcraft were used on another superstitious and religious population ;

  2. Matt Westwood says:

    Does anyone remember what happened in the Orkneys at the beginning of the 1990s? Wasn’t that something to do with over-zealous social workers taking many children away from their parents because the latter were “suspected” (on laughable evidence) of having abused their children in witchcraft rituals? IIRC the fascist press (and the king of professional noseyparkerism Roger Cook) had a field day in persecuting “alternative bookshops”

  3. AgentCormac says:

    OT, but harping back to a previous thread it seems that sanity has prevailed in so much as the pope hasn’t won the Nobel Peace Prize for all the amazing work he has done to bring peace to Syria. The Prize has instead gone to Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

  4. Newspaniard says:

    And people abuse me for demanding that the death penalty be re-introduced when there is absolute proof of murder.

  5. Matt Westwood says:

    I should bloody think so too. To allow the death penalty is a sign that the nation has reverted to pre-civilised mediaeval barbarity. People in favour of the death penalty are subhuman moronic fascistic simpleminds who deserve to go to war.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Matt: It was American evangelicals who were behind the “Satanic Abuse” panic that swept the world in the 1980s. There are accusations by conspiracy theory opponents that this has now morphed into child abuse hysteria in the UK today, and I think one has to be careful about generalized allegations.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Haha – Oklahoma has a new “Death Chamber”, no doubt lulling victims to sleep with relaxing “mood music”. No more cock-ups, then!

  8. barriejohn says:

    Matt: The following is interesting, though you may not agree with all that is said. Some of it is worrying, however.

  9. L.Long says:

    No one does evil better than religion.
    and it aint hard when you believe one form of superstitious BS to believe other forms especially when your BS already says it is real.
    This is why all religions are horrible.

  10. Vanity Unfair says:

    Does this mean that, having lost the battle on Satanic ritual abuse, the police and social services are now looking at Hecatic ritual abuse? I wholeheartedly agree with DS Sharpe when he says that child abuse is child abuse but surely, from the cases cited, he is also be looking at Jehovic (OED says it is obsolete but I like the word) child abuse. After all, there is already plenty of evidence for that occurring all over the world and not only from the minority sects. Incidentally, I would include Islamic as a subset of Jehovic.

  11. Vanity Unfair says:

    Oh, that’s neat: five minutes to change your mind.

  12. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: I’m pleased I don’t bet as I would have put heavy money on the Pope getting the Peace Prize. I thought all the conniving, pressuring and devious moves behind the scenes would have got him there. Then we would have an adulatory programme on the BBC with lots of Vincent Nichols to the fore. And TfTD priests would have been wetting themselves with excitement.

    Must stop. I’m giving myself a nightmare. Great news that Malala got it.

  13. Stephen Mynett says:

    Having slagged off the Nobel Peace Prize the other day, I am glad to be wrong this time, as Broga said, it is great news Malala got the prize. I await with interest (?) the next three-mile post from Iftyshithouse or whatever his name is.

  14. Stephen Turner says:

    Well done to Malala. Mr. Satyarthi also sounds like a worthy winner.

    Of course Barack Obama also got the NPP in 2008, and he hadn’t done anything at all, good or bad, beyond looking a bit dark on TV!