From Witch-hunts to Child Protection: What Are The Implications Of Witchcraft-Related Beliefs and Practices on Children’s Wellbeing?
06th March 2019 at 10:00 am
De Vere Colmore Gate, Birmingham, B3 2QD
Wednesday 6th March 2019
Professor Julie Taylor, Professor Jeanette Littlemore, Dr Maria Clark and Susan Waigwa
Throughout society, stories about witchcraft capture the popular imagination. In this workshop we explore the plural contexts through which myths, beliefs and rituals relating to witchcraft are embodied at the intersection between the child, family and cultural environments.
Opening the conversation, we highlight serious case reviews of non-accidental and neglectful injuries to children that indicate how beliefs about witchcraft may be associated with family mental illness and claims of child spirit possession. Such cases show perpetrator involvement in violent purging of ‘evil spirits’ through child suffering including neglect, beatings, drowning and painful child death. The abusive manifestations of witchcraft-related beliefs and practices may include victim-blaming; stigma associated with mental illness, child exorcisms, and ritual killing. Good child protection requires a multi-agency platform for early identification and responses that include the ability to explore counter-claims of persecutory, discriminatory behaviour.
Practices may involve online abuse as well as healing and religious rituals and/or medicine misuse. Accusations of witchcraft are often sensational and problematic. This workshop will increase awareness and heighten skills for collaborative responses to this issue; working together to navigate cross-cultural tensions in identifying and preventing neglect and harm to children.
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