In the United Kingdom, children believed to be witches or seen as possessed by evil spirits can be subject to severe beatings, traumatic exorcism, and/or other abuse. There have even been child murders associated with witchcraft beliefs. The problem is particularly serious among immigrant or former immigrant communities of African origin but other communities, such as those of Asian origin are also involved. Step children and children seen as different for a wide range of reasons are particularly at risk of witchcraft accusations.
Thousands of children could be abused because relatives believe they are witches or possessed by evil spirits in Britain, it has been warned. The Independent reports that the first ever government statistics on the issue showed that witchcraft and possession were linked to almost 1,500 potential abuse cases across the UK in a single year but the figure is thought to be an underestimate.
“These beliefs are very real and on occasion people are going to take this to extremes where a child can be murdered,” said Inspector Allen Davis, who leads the Metropolitan Police’s response to the issue. “There are a number of ways that an adult will try to rid the child of the evil they believe is within them. “They might try to burn it out, cut it out, strangle it out, drowning can be involved, or starving and beating.”
An NSPCC (UK’s leading children charity) spokesman said for BBC in 2015: "While the number of child abuse cases involving witchcraft is relatively small, they often include horrifying levels of cruelty. The authorities which deal with these dreadful crimes need to ensure they are able to spot the signs of this particular brand of abuse and take action to protect children before a tragedy occurs."
London is unique in having a police team, Project Violet, dedicated to this type of abuse. Abuse can be separated into five different areas according to the Metropolitan police website:
- Abuse as a result of a child being accused of being a ‘witch’;
- Abuse as a result of a child being accused of being possessed by ‘evil spirits’;
- Ritualistic abuse, which is prolonged sexual, physical and psychological abuse;
- Satanic abuse which is carried out in the name of ‘Satan’ and may have links to cults;
- Any other harmful practice linked to a belief or faith.
In recent years, cases including the killing of Kristy Bamu and Ayesha Ali have shaken the United Kingdom. Bamu, 15, was found dead in 2010 after staying with his sister Magalie Bamu and her partner Eric Bikubi, who were obsessed with witchcraft. He was starved for days and beaten with hammers, floor tiles and bottles for wetting his pants and “spelling” his siblings. He drowned in the bath on Christmas Day during a “cleansing” ritual.
Ayesha Ali, eight, was killed in August 2013 by the pair who believed she was possessed by the devil and forced her to endure beatings and abuse. She was found dead in her room in Chadwell Heath, east London, after a fatal blow to the head but evidence of bite marks and other abuse were found on her body.
Photo Credits: Rebel Circus