Belief in witchcraft fostering abuse of children

March 7, 2012

British police say they have investigated more than 80
witchcraft-based child abuse cases in the last decade and warned that
the practice is "far more prevalent" than previously believed.

Authorities say the belief in witchcraft is widespread and growing in some African immigrant communities in Britain.

The
disclosure came as a couple from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Magalie Bamu and Eric Bikubi, were sentenced to life in prison for
torturing and drowning the woman's 15-year-old brother, Kristy Bamu.

Police
said the two were convinced that the youth was a witch who had cast a
spell on another child. They added that Bikubi had a "lifelong
obsession" with a form of witchcraft known as kindoki and believed he
had a special ability to detect evil.

Scotland Yard officials said
they had probed 83 cases involving ritualistic or "faith-based" crimes
in the past ten years—cases they believe represent only a small part of
witchcraft practices in Britain.

Detective Superintendent Terry
Sharpe said "this is a hidden and underreported crime and therefore
difficult to deal with in terms of protecting victims from harm."
Sharpe, who heads a police team that tackles religion-based child abuse,
added that "the intelligence from the community is that it's far more
prevalent than the reports we are getting."

Previous cases include
exorcism ceremonies; torture; attacks with knives, sticks, metal bars
and hammers; drownings and disembowelments. The cases involve beliefs
brought into Britain from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.  —RNS