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since June 19, 2001


Anna Climbie — The death of a child, and society's inability to see evil

Erin Pizzey comments

anna12.gif (23696 bytes)

Anna Climbie:
'She was murdered by her carers
but was undoubtedly failed repeatedly
by the child protection system'

Story (In Dutch): 

LONDEN - Een man en een vrouw zijn gisteren door de Londense rechtbank Old Bailey tot levenslange gevangenisstraffen en voor altijd eenzame opsluiting veroordeeld voor wat in Groot-BrittanniŽ als de ergste zaak van kindermishandeling ooit wordt beschouwd.

Story (To see the English version of the story scroll down to English text.)

For Anna, the promise of a new life ended in pain, fear and filth
Agencies failed to act as girl, eight, suffered

Special report: child protection

Audrey Gillian
Saturday January 13, 2001, The Guardian UK

And here is a commentary by Erin Pizzey:

1282 words


By Erin Pizzey

In thirty years of working with violent and dysfunctional families, the most difficult cases ever presented to me are when the primary care giver of the child is an abusive woman. There is almost no information on women as abusers and virtually none on women as paedophiles.

What Anna Climbie’s parents did not know when they allowed Marie Therese Kouao to take their daughter to a new and better life, was that they were putting their child into the hands of a sadistic perverted paedophile. In African families and in Afro Caribbean families, children are often shared amongst friends and relations. So when Kouao who met Anna’s parents twice at funerals impressed them with her talk of an affluent life they were happy to see their child offered what they believed to be an excellent education and a future away from the poverty they were now experiencing.

Anna was not the first child that came into Kouao’s hands and only time will tell if she was as violent and abusive to other children in her care. The pattern for women like Kouao is that they deliberately offer to adopt children from vulnerable gullible parents and then proceed to use the child for their own violent and sexual needs.

Women sexual abuser’s satisfactions are far more diffuse than that of men. But both sexes achieve high levels of sexual satisfaction from the pain and the wounding of their victims. Kouao like other women I have dealt with did not need an accomplice to fulfil her violent sexual needs but in many cases having a willing onlooker and a participator increases the sense of perverted excitement. Kauai’s narcissistic feeling of omnipotence escalated each time she escaped detection by the various agencies that refused to look at the evidence before their eyes.

There is always a ritual for women like Kouao that precipitate the beatings and the torture. In Kouao’s case it was her ability to project her own demons upon the frail form of a little girl. If Kouao is properly interrogated it will be possible for her to describe the necessary steps that she took to enable her to create her private concentration camp for the child. The burnings, the beatings and the encasing of the child’s body in a black bin liner will all have a significance known only to Kouao.

This sort of sadistic violence is not random but can be traced back into damage that was done to Kouao herself. It was no accident that she came upon Carl Manning and he became her partner. One of the most amazing elements in abusers like Kouao is just how many people they can suck into their perverted reality.

Manning was living at home with his mother. His perverted sexual fantasies were confined to watching pornography on his computer and frequenting prostitutes. Until he met Kouao, his sadistic fantasies were confined to his imagination. However, in so many cases, sexual abusers like Kouao have an unerring instinct when they meet a willing accomplice.

At no point, did Manning have any instinct to have pity or compassion for a tiny tortured child. His disgust at Anna’s incontinence and his complicity in the violence must bear witness to events in his own childhood. His subordination to Kouao’s perverted lifestyle was complete. He called the child ‘Satan Anna’ and admired her ability to sustain painful beatings.

Living with Kouao and Anna in his tiny flat, he was engulfed by Kauai’s powerful reality. Her hold over both Manning and Anna was complete. Having what must have been a bankrupt reality of his own fed only by prostitutes and pornography, Manning was ripe to fall into Kouao’s clutches.

Anna, no doubt threatened with further torture should she ever ask for help, also believed in her tormentor’s omnipotence. Within the walls of the flat Kouao created a perverted world or her own. It is hard to describe to a general public just how hallucinating this perverted world is for those wrapped up in its dark folds.

The inner world of the dangerously perverted becomes a reality for the victim and the anticipation of the torture becomes more terrifying than the moment when the violence begins. After a time when the beating stops gratitude sets in which often binds the victim to the torturer who is now all powerful in the victim’s life. How many times must that child have believed as she was taken to two hospitals, dragged in front of social workers and taken to church, that at some point some caring adult might save her?

What the child could not have known is that there is a refusal on the part of our society to look at the evil perpetrated by women. Had Kouao been a man, Anna’s parents would not have allowed her leave their village. British immigration authorities would have looked twice at a man bringing a small girl into this country. They may well have run a check on the child’s passport and discovered it was forged.

This is not the only case I have been involved in when female paedophiles have moved in and out of the country with children on forged passports. Hospitals, social workers and the police are trained to look for male perpetrators of violence and sexual abuse. They are not trained to question female perpetrators like Kouao and she used their unwillingness to imagine her as an abuser to her advantage.

There is a climate of fear in this country that threatens any attempt to question women’s role in dysfunctional behaviour. For those of us who work in the field of domestic violence, we have been pilloried and persecuted for suggesting that women can and are just as capable of violence as men.

Anna Cameron, a friend who had child minded for Kouao in the past, saw that Anna had cuts on her fingers, across her cheek and eyelid and marks on her body that she suspected were cigarette burns. She took Anna to Central Middlesex hospital but she was discharged after an overnight stay because the child protection doctor, Ruby Schwartz, preferred to believe that Anna suffered from ‘scabies’ rather than from child abuse.

I wonder if Ruby Schwartz was blinded by the fact that the abuser was a woman and black? I wonder if Ruby Schwartz, Ms. Arthurworrey a member of Haringey’s child protection team along with PC Karen Jones had failed to be informed that women perpetrate the majority of child abuse cases?

According to The Guardian report ‘The death of Anna Climbie’ (Saturday, January 13 2001) Arthurworrey and Jones failed to visit Anna because they fear catching scabies. I do not believe that they seriously feared scabies.  What they did fear was Kouao’s violence should they confront her with her abusive behaviour.

Kouao’s whole life style was one of threatening behaviour, lying and intimidating anyone who crossed her. Only the death of a child brought her villainous career to an end. As Manning sits in prison penning his love letters to her, hopefully one day he is able to take the responsibility for his part in the death of an innocent child. W.H. Auden wrote:

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

(September 1, 1939 (1940).

All we can do as a country is to mourn for Anna’s short and tortured life and make a vow that should we be faced with what looks like an act of violence against a child, we will have the courage to go to the rescue.

Erin Pizzey

Flat 5,
29 Lebanon Park,
Twickenham TW1 3DH.

About Erin Pizzey

More information on child abuse, and especially
child abuse by women:

  • Getting rid of Dad

  • A BBC program on sexual abuse by children provided an estimate of perhaps as many as 35 percent of child sexual abuse of children being done by women, and that the reality may be worse than that. (BBC Panorama (10 pm Monday 6th, October 1997) Child Sexual Abuse by Women. Researchers are now asking about child sexual abuse by women, now estimated at 250,000 children, or 35% or more of all reported child sexual abuse. This compares with the more openly admitted and traditional non-sexual abuse/neglect of children by women where the incidence rate is about 60%.

Summary of program: http://www.vix.com/menmag/panosumm.htm,

Full transcript: http://www.vix.com/menmag/panofull.htm

Posted 2001 03 15
2001 06 17 (updated links)