Donations for abused African children
Two charities are donating £450,000 to help African children in the UK who are accused of witchcraft and demon possession. It is hoped that the money will help improve child protection and provide a family support centre.
Traditional African customs involving exorcism of those thought to be demon-possessed have followed some migrant communities to the UK. Children can be subject to violent abuse if allegations are made against them. Last year, a government-funded report identified 38 such cases of abuse.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries there are thousands of unregulated churches which mix traditional beliefs and extreme revivalist Christianity. According to a report by the BBC, thousands of children live on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, after being thrown out of their homes accused of ‘Kindoki’ or ‘Ndoki’ (witchcraft).
In June 2005 three people were tried at the Old Bailey and sent to prison for abusing a child they claimed was possessed by evil spirits. The child, who cannot be named, had been stabbed, beaten and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes. Five years earlier eight-year-old Victoria Climbié was tortured to death, in part because her killers believed she was possessed. When she died she had 128 separate injuries.
The City Parochial Foundation and the Trust for London are giving the money to four groups: AFRUCA (Africans Unite against Child Abuse); the UK Congolese Safeguarding Action Group; the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service; and the Victoria Climbié Foundation.