Child protection cases based on faith or belief increased by one-third in England in 2018, meaning almost 2,000 cases in a year, or nearly 38 such cases a week.
This is taken as evidence that social workers have improved in identifying and reporting cases, like abuse under the guise of witchcraft, treating spirit possession or black magic. But the real incidence rate may be higher as most of these crimes are not reported.
The growing number of cases is still alarming, as it's not just the terrifying cases (ritual killing, starving to death, exorcism) that are rising, but female genital mutilation (1,000 such cases in 2018/19) as well.
Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbié Foundation, a charity campaigning for improvements in child protection policies, said: 'It is encouraging to see practitioners identifying harmful practices that can lead to serious injuries or child deaths. However, we need further examination of census data to understand the prevalence of these abuses, and to effectively engage with communities if we are to prevent child abuse linked to faith or belief, including the eventual eradication of FGM.'