Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Child abuse and witchcraft

Tim Loughton, the Children’s Minister, is 100% correct to prioritise stopping ritual child abuse conducted because the perpetrators believe that the child is a witch.

Tim is right to want to raise awareness of police, social workers, health and other professionals.

Although I am generally sceptical about the impact of the criminal law in reducing child abuse and neglect, some years ago I suggested that a criminal offence of inciting significant harm to a child might be considered.

My idea was that this should be akin to the offence of inciting racial hatred (Race Relations Act 1976, Public Order Act 1986, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994). No specific person would have to exist as the object of the incitement. It would be sufficient that a person urged others to commit an assault on any child.

That, I thought, would be one way to prosecute ‘rogue pastors’ and others who advocate brutal treatment of children who are believed to be witches, but who are careful not to be seen to conspire with others to commit a particular criminal offence against a particular child.

Would that be helpful? Let me know by emailing: