‘Exorcism’ fears for African children

The police have raised fears that an unknown number of African
children are being subjected to “exorcisms” in churches.

Five years after Victoria ClimbiŽ died, detectives working for
Metropolitan Police have been told that instances of children
having demons beaten out of them have been uncovered by workers
appointed to deal with child protection among newly arrived

Two community partnership workers recruited by police for a project
piloted in Newham, east London, and Hackney, north London, have
come across cases involving witchcraft. Victoria’s parents sought
assurances from the police after the inquiry ended that they would
work more with the community.

During Lord Laming’s inquiry into Victoria’s death it was revealed
her great aunt Marie-Therese Kouao was told by a pastor that
Victoria was possessed by demons.

Just 10 of London’s 32 social services departments surveyed by
BBC2’s Newsnight programme had undertaken child protection work
with African churches.

Chris Bourlet, detective superintendent with the Child Abuse
Investigation command of the Metropolitan Police, said many experts
thought it was a growing problem: “We suspect it [abuse] is
under-reported. Child abuse is difficult enough to report and in
churches it is not out in the open.”

“Carers sometimes send children they believe to be possessed back
to the home country where they are then abandoned,” added Bourlet.

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