Huge rise in UK child abuse through witchcraft and ‘religious rituals’ – police
According to figures released by police on Wednesday, Scotland Yard received 27 allegations of ritual child abuse, with many more cases believed to be hidden by families and guardians.
The cases reported to the Metropolitan Police included children who were swung around and “smacked” in order to “drive out the devil,” while others were said to have raw chillies rubbed into their eyes during exorcism rituals.
In 2013, 24 cases of religiously-motivated abuse were recorded, while only nine were recorded in 2011. Some 149 cases of child abuse through exorcism rituals have been reported to the police since 2004.
“Abuse linked to belief is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths,” said Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, adding that ritual child abuse was “a hidden crime”.
“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,” he added.
The findings come despite government efforts to tackle religiously-driven child abuse, notably through the “Every Child Matters” initiative launched in 2003.
The policy came as a result of the murder of Victoria Climbié, who was subject to repeated bouts of physical abuse by her guardians, including being burnt with cigarettes and hit with heavy bike chains.
According to police reports, Climbié was accused of being a witch by her aunt’s then-boyfriend, Carl Manning.
Other high-profile abuses linked to religious ritual include the murder of Kristy Bamu (pictured), who was savagely beaten by his sister’s partner, Eric Bikubi, in 2010. Bamu, who was 15 at the time, was accused by Bikubi of being possessed by “evil spirits”, and subsequently hit with hammers, floor tiles and broken glass, before being drowned in a bathtub.
There is little information on the prevalence of religiously driven abuse in the UK due to the increased secrecy of the practice. However, in 2007 the NSPCC released a report urging the government to introduce new laws to protect children vulnerable to such abuse.
“Although the number of identified cases is low, the type of abuse is particularly disturbing and the impact on the child is substantial and can have serious implications for them in later life,” the report said.
Other campaign groups have welcomed the Met’s latest effort to curb the problem, but warn that victims have been forgotten because of the hidden nature of ritual sacrifice.
“We are pleased that the Metropolitan Police has undertaken such great work in this area, but we are convinced that this form of abuse is hidden, and that the statutory agencies across the UK are facing similar situations,” said Simon Bass, a spokesman for the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service.
Police are currently investigating a series of “child exorcisms” that took place outside a South London leisure center last month, in which adults were reportedly heard shouting about “releasing the spirit” in rituals that took place in the early hours of the morning. However, no allegations of criminal behavior have been made at present.