Born in deepest Cornwall, now living in wild Wales, Bev has been practising her personal brand of eclectic witchcraft for years and years.
And most of them are children.
Horrifically, an estimated 2,000 children have been killed, tortured, or abused in the UK because they were thought to practice witchcraft. The figure is likely to be far higher because the connection isn’t made by police or social services. The causes are often cited as ‘mental health issues’ in the perpetrator.
This witchcraft isn’t the kind you see encapsulated in Hollywood movies or in the earth-based practice of western countries. It’s the ‘possessed by demons’ kind. This is dark, terrifying. And once accused, it’s impossible to deny, even if the child had words to do so.
The abuse often occurs when the child’s ‘community’ takes action to exorcise the demonic possession. And community members will stop at nothing to rid themselves of the witchcraft blight.
Children As Scapegoats
Often, when a community suffers a loss or a run of misfortune, the members will look for a scapegoat. And usually, it is someone who is unable to defend themselves. A child. Particularly one who is distinguished by a disability or a physical difference. Causes cited in various cases have included: being a twin, sleepwalking, wetting the bed, suffering from epilepsy, and being gifted.
A Christian pastor told Marie-Therese Kouao that her niece, Victoria Climbié was a witch and possessed by evil spirits. Victoria had come to live with her aunt in London. Her parents had sent her from the Ivory Coast to give her a better life. Eight-year-old Victoria had, according to her aunt, not been properly toilet-trained and this was obviously the result of possession. Her ‘diagnosis’ was confirmed by the preacher who told her that the child had a spiritual problem.
Subsequently, Kouao and her lover, Carl Manning, tortured and starved Victoria over a period of months until her death. She had 128 separate injuries.
When such stories are reported, we find them tragic, but consider them to be ‘one-offs’. Sadly, this is not the case. It appears that spiritual and community leaders have a huge amount of influence over their members. They are viewed as people to look up to and believe - even over normal, human common sense.
Sometimes it is a family member who decides the child is possessed and takes matters into their own hands. In 2010 Nusayba Bharuchi was four years old when her own mother disembowelled her to remove the ‘demonic spirit’ she perceived within her daughter. Her mother, Shayna, was detained under the Mental Health Act after being discovered rocking her daughter’s body while listening to verses from the Qu’ran on her MP3 player. The child’s father came home from work to find her internal organs scattered around the house.
Inspector Allen Davis, of London’s Metropolitan Police, said,
“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.”
On Christmas day, 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu was murdered by his sister and her soccer coach boyfriend after they deemed he was possessed. They had subjected him to three days of torture—attacked him with pliers, planks, and metal bars. It finally ended when they drowned the boy in a bathtub. The jury members in the trial were so traumatised by the horrific details, they were all excused from further jury service for the rest of their lives by the judge.
When parents or other relatives suspect that a child is harboring a demon or is practicing witchcraft, they start off by insisting he or she wears amulets or prays for protection. When that doesn’t work, actions are escalated and help sought from community and spiritual leaders. They sincerely believe that the child is no longer inhabiting the body, so they will go to any lengths, even murder to rid themselves of the demon.
In the case of eight-year-old Ayesha Ali, her mother was manipulated by her girlfriend, Kiki Muddar. Muddar had created a weird fantasy world of characters, including a Muslim spirit guide called “Skyman”, who ‘instructed’ Ayesha’s mother, Polly Chowdhury, to harm the child. Chowdhury believed the spirit guide was telling her truths about her daughter so she proceeded to ‘punish’ her.
Muddar also sent 40,000 text messages which brainwashed Chowdhury into believing that Ayesha was possessed, evil and had bad blood. Eventually, Chowdhury cracked and inflicted a fatal head injury.
Yes, This Is 21st Century Britain
Mardoche Yembi, a survivor of attempted exorcism, says he fears Covid-19 lockdowns have hidden the true extent of child abuse relating to witchcraft in the UK.
Only six cases came to light in the first six months of 2021, compared to thirty-seven during 2018.
Even children with Covid symptoms (which might also simply be common colds) have been accused of witchcraft, says International human rights activist, Mandy Sanghera. Families blamed the children when they lost their jobs or became furloughed on the Government’s job-saving scheme. The spiritual ‘advisers’ tell the parents that Covid isn’t a real thing and that children who display symptoms of this ‘non-existent’ virus are actually possessed.
It is likely that the pandemic has prevented many concerned people from reporting suspicious incidents to social workers or the police.
"Sometimes people - frontline social workers, police officers - won't address certain things because they'll say 'it's cultural' or 'we don't want to get involved'. But sometimes it's too late."
— Mandy Sanghera, human rights activist.
There is not one common religion whose members take these beliefs to extremes. The Metropolitan Police said cases have been found among Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Also, the same goes for nationalities; victims and their abusers come from many countries.
Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre, said it was difficult to provide exact reasons for the increase in cases or belief-based child abuse in England. He explained:
"Some of it is linked to cases of child trafficking where children are taken through different practices like witchcraft, juju and black magic to silence them - as a form of control."
Whatever the reasons, it is imperative that UK Social Services and police forces identify cases early on in this horrific wave of child abuse before tragedy strikes again. They have to put aside their squeamishness when dealing with ethnic groups and cultures, otherwise more children will be the victims of accusations of witchcraft and demonic possession.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Bev G
Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 23, 2021:
Yes, I agree. However, the children I am writing about in the article are not witches, neither are they possessed. They are abused.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 22, 2021:
Witchcraft never died down as the power of the occult has a deep fascination for the human mind. Its in the nature of man and will never go away.
Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 22, 2021:
You are right, John. I'm sure it's happening throughout Europe and the rest of the Western world. We only hear about these things after they've happened. There's no way to know what's going on within those close-knit communities.
Thank you for reading.
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 21, 2021:
Bev, this is sickening and barbaric, especially to read it is still so prevalent in the 21st Century. Though, with everything else going on in the world right now I shouldn’t be surprised. I had only read of what I thought were isolated incidents before in this country, and that was usually blamed on the perpetrator having mental health issues and hallucinations. If it is happening in Britain it is happening everywhere. It is sad that innocent and helpless children are often the scapegoat.
Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 21, 2021:
Indeed, Rupert. And the problem is that it's hidden. No one sees it. Social services are blind to it.
When the Victoria Climbie case happened, she'd been deregistered from school, which almost ended in homeschooling being banned in the UK.
Rupert Taylor from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on September 21, 2021:
Utterly sickening. We've had a few cases of horrendous child abuse in Canada, and they've not always been tied to superstitious beliefs in ethnic communities. But when a case comes from Voodoo or Muslim tradition there is a deep reluctance to label it as such because of what you identify as allegations of racism.
A tiny number of immigrants do arrive with medieval ideas still firmly implanted in their minds. Perhaps, with more careful screening we could deny them entry, but they would still carry on with their barbaric practices in their home countries. So, the lives of victims are still not spared and the perpetrators suffer few consequences.
I wish I could offer a solution, but I can't. It seems to be an intractable problem.
Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 21, 2021:
Hi Liliane, everything I described in the article is already against the law. It still happens. The police are weird here; they are reluctant to 'interfere' for fear of being accused of racism or cultural-ism. Thus girls continue to be raped by gangs, and children continue to be abused, mutilated, or murdered by their own families.
Liliane Najm from Toronto, Canada on September 21, 2021:
Do you have someone in the UK willing to take on this cause and demand a law to protect these practices? This is barbarism not cultural beliefs.