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Learning English - Words in the News
11 July, 2005 - Published 13:32 GMT
Witch trial girl's "mother" found
Sita Kisanga and Sebastian Pinto jailed over child cruelty charges

The BBC has found a woman in Angola who says she is the mother of the girl in the so called "witch trial". Last week three people in London were jailed for torturing a child because they thought she was a witch. The court was told she was an orphan. This report from James Westhead.

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The BBC travelled to the Angolan capital Luanda to investigate the prevalence of the belief in child witchcraft after receiving information that the girl's mother was alive. Using family photographs taken in London for verification - a woman in Luanda identified the child as her daughter. The woman said she wanted to resume contact, but the family were currently too poor to take her back. She said she did not believe that the girl was possessed.

The BBC was also told of children being murdered because of the belief in witchcraft and came across first-hand evidence of traditional African healers and Christian pastors submitting children to horrific abuse.

The most disturbing case was that of a desperately ill eight year-old boy subjected to a series of abusive rituals by a traditional healer. Despite repeated pleas for urgent action the Angolan authorities took four days to intervene. They say the boy died later in hospital.

James Westhead, BBC.

Listen to the words

to investigate the prevalence of
to find out how often something happens, or how common it is

making sure that something is true or correct

to start something again after a pause

controlled by an evil spirit

the activity of using special powers, or magic, to help or harm people

first-hand evidence
experiencing something yourself which gives you reason to believe something is true

forcing someone to undergo something

abusive rituals
"abusive" means harmful and "rituals" are set of actions carried out regularly, often as part of a ceremony

to intervene
to take action to stop something from happening

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