In recent years, some of the most worrying incidents that have come into the limelight in the UK are related to cases that involve ill-treatment of children accused of witchcraft or being ‘possessed’ by evil powers. These incidents have revealed that in some of the cases, in the name of being ‘treated,’ the children were made to suffer such terrible ordeals that they ended up dead or with grave injuries. This belief in ‘possession’ by evil spirits or witchcraft is a characteristic that is seen in various parts of the world as a part of religious activities, and is not confined to any specific faith, culture, religious group, or country, neither does it relate only to the immigrants residing in the UK.
The term ‘possessed’ is based on a superstitious belief that ‘evil spirits’ enter a child’s body and takes control. On the other hand, the term ‘witch’ is used to connote that a child is capable of using evil spirits in order to bring misfortune for others. In such cases, family members, religious heads or caregivers genuinely believe in evil forces operating through a child, and to remove the ill effects they resort to ‘exorcising’ the child, wherein the abuse takes place, causing death or injuries.
The idea of an evil spirit entering a human body has always attracted people, which is quite evident from the success of movies like The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby.Even though mention of evil spirits and ‘possession’ are regularly found in the Bible (as in, Matt 4:24, 8:16 or Samuel 16:14, 18:10), and prayers are still read for exorcism of people possessed by ‘evil spirits’ in the Anglicanism and the Roman Catholic sermons., it is noteworthy that the belief is present in almost all modern societies and religions, worldwide. In the UK, one of the most prominent cases of child abuse related to possession by spirits, as highlighted by media, was the gruesome murder of Victoria Climbie, (an eight-year-old girl of African origin) in February 2000. The second case was the murder of a 3- month old baby named Samira Ullah by her father in 2004, who claimed that an evil spirit (jinn) possessed his daughter.