London – Mr Chuka Umunna, Nigerian born Member of the British Parliament on Monday kicked against the branding of children as witches in the UK, describing it as an “awful act punishable under the law. ’’
Umunna represents Streatham, one of the three constituencies representing Brixton, an area with one of the largest African Diaspora populations in the UK.
He is also the only black member of the Shadow Cabinet and is the most senior elected UK politician of African origin.
Umunna made the remarks in reaction to recent reports which he said was “happening in small number of cases under the radar in this country. ’’
“There can be no excuse whatsoever for treating children in this way; branding them as witches or as possessed by evil spirits.
If you carry out these awful acts, the strong arm of the law will be brought to bear on you,’’ Umunna said.
He explained further that such cases highlight the vital responsibility of the black communities towards the protection of children within the ethnic communities.
Umunna noted that investigations revealed that children branded as witches or accused of being possessed by evil spirits, face worst abuses and neglect including torture and death.
He disclosed that the House of Commons in collaboration with a UK-based a non governmental organisation, Africans Unite against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) would be holding a summit on the subject.
He said: “we will do everything in our power to work to prevent the tragic loss of life and maltreatment of young people of African origin.”
Also, Ms Debbie Ariyo, Executive Director of AFRUCA who called for the criminalisation of branding children as witches, saying the act infringes on the rights of children.
“The branding of children as witches leads to other forms of abuses including serious physical abuse and torture, even sexual abuse and definitely child neglect.
“There is nowhere in UK law where the link between witchcraft branding and emotional abuse is explicitly made, despite the level of harm and devastation that can occur,’’ she said.
Ariyo who described this as an “anomaly’’ called for urgent revisit of the law in order to safeguard vulnerable children from becoming victims. (NAN)