• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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More on Child Exorcism and Ritual Killings

Private Eye (1167) carries an interesting letter following-up on its recent report on child exorcism and alleged ritual killings (which I blogged on here):

Sir

The piece on Child Abuse – Satanic Panic, is a very interesting and valuable contribution to debate surrounding the problem of “so-called child witches”.

It is the first article which I know of in the UK, that separates the very real imported problem of “so-called child witches” or “enfants dits sorcières” as they are known in DR Congo (where the problem is most prevalent in Africa), from unsubstantiated claims of satanic abuse and “traditional” or Juju/voodoo rituals.

As your reporter correctly points out these three distinct issues were conflated by Angus Stickler’s reports for the BBC and by the Evening Standard last year. This of course risks “demonising” all Africans as “that’s what they do isn’t it” and detracts from the real problem of physical abuse of children, which is aided and abetted by (mostly) self-ordained preachers in the new evangelical African churches that have come to the UK with their refugee parishioners from countries like DR Congo and Angola.

My colleague Jonny Donovan and I have worked at first hand in DR Congo and Angola with organisations which are trying to combat the problem in those countries – Kinshasa for instance has upwards of 30,000 street children aged from three to 12, most of whom have been ejected from their families accused of witchcraft.

SIMON LAWSON

Nomad Productions Ltd.

The magazine also has a letter from Angus Stickler, in which he defends his reporting of the issues and states that the BBC provided “an accurate summary” of the Metropolitan Police on the subject. Apparently it did not occur to Stickler to question whether the police report itself might not be accurate, despite the fact that the police were taking advice from such dubious characters as Kobus Jonker.

Lawson is quite right to commend the Eye for separating the three conflated issues – but while we can discount the “Satanic abuse” element, the “Juju/voodoo” issue is not quite as “unsubstantiated” as he and the Eye suggest. As I blogged at the time, the Eye‘s report failed to mention the evidence of Richard Hoskins in the case of “Adam” (the dismembered child found by the Thames five years ago), and as I wrote just a couple of days ago, child-killing for magical purposes does appear to be an increasing problem in Uganda.

The danger of “demonising” Africans over the problem is also worth bearing in mind. It should be remembered that this is not “African culture”, but rather elements that have mutated in strange and harmful ways. The teratogens are decades of social breakdown, war, tyranny, disease and extreme poverty, in the context of a chaotic and globalising world.

2 Responses

  1. I wish someone would investigate the accuracy of Angus Stickler’s news reporting in more detail.
    As someone who worked with him before he re-invented himself as a news journalist, I can vouch for the fact that his understanding of the word ‘truth’ was tenuous to say the least.

    He also loathed children in general, so it is ironic to find that he has carved a niche in reporting on child abuse.

    Sony Award not withstanding, I’d suggest that the BBC start double-checking some of his ‘facts’ – I suspect that in his desire to make a name for himself, a great deal of exaggeration has taken place.

  2. […] of human sacrifice in the UK – I suspect that Rogers is here repeating the mistake, which I discussed here, of conflating sacrifice with the killing of children believed to be […]

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