Kristy Bamu was murdered in London by his sister and her boyfriend after they’d accused him of practicing witchcraft. This has shined the spotlight onto a practice that’s been spreading across Africa in recent years. Albert Tucker, though, writing at the inevitable, is discomfited by this interest…

However, if we are to learn anything from this terrible case and better protect children, it is essential that we do not allow this debate to become solely focused on the belief in witchcraft, or a sense that this is an “alien” concept, but understand this for what it is: a horrific form of child abuse…

Actually, it’s both those things.

What is worrying is the tendency to view this abuse differently from other forms dealt with by social services, the police and schools. Although it feels instinctively uncomfortable, these cases do not require a “special” response…

Tucker goes on to mention other forms of child abuse that have shocked our society and if his point is that it isn’t a phenomenon that’s exclusive to particular communities he is, of course, entirely right. Yet I’m not sure how you can deny that different forms require special responses; it seems a bit like claiming that as “Spanish”, “Denver”, “egg-white” and “tamagoyaki” are all forms of omelette they require the same ingredients and prep. (This also applies to people’s identical thoughts regarding “honour” violence.)  The violent fear of witchcraft is associated with particular communities; has specific influences at home and abroad and is openly expressed in peculiar forums. I have no first hand experience, o’ course, but I’m willing to bet that it can leave singular and identifiable effects on its victims. It is, then, a unique phenomenon that cries out for a special response. And so are other forms of abuse! In a society that contains so many different beliefs and practices, which influence people’s behaviour in such different ways, it’s sometimes going to be impossible to take a uniform approach to people and their actions. It’s ironic that some commentators are least fond of multiculturalism when it’s at its least avoidable.