‘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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