Child Abuse Linked to Faith



Belief in supernatural forces, witchcraft and demonic possession has lead to several horrific cases of child abuse and child death as with the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000 and Kristy Bamu in 2010. In circumstances of faith linked abuse, children thought to be harbouring some kind of evil spirit, or to be under some kind of spell are targeted as the source of problems such as ill health, misfortune or adult infertility. Once a faith leader has identified the child in question as being a supernatural threat, they can be subjected to significant psychological or physical abuse by way of exorcism, leading in some cases to their death. Victims are often targeted either because they are in someway different, e.g. left handed, epileptic, albino, or because they exhibit some form of abnormal, i.e. undesirable behaviour, which could be something as simple as persistent bed wetting. Abuse can include sexual abuse, semi-strangulation, stabbing, beating, burning and application of highly irritant spices (chilli, etc) to the eyes or genitals.

The Government has published a number of documents on the gov.uk website, which is aimed at anyone who works with children, who believe that a child in their charge is being subject to faith linked abuse:

National Action Plan – Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief