Exorcism and children: balancing protection and autonomy in the legal framework

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This paper examines the current legal framework in relation to minors who are the recipients of exorcism. Such individuals are ordinarily doubly marginalised, by virtue of their membership of a minority religious or cultural community and their disempowered position as children. This piece aims to assess whether the current arrangements strike an appropriate balance between respecting personal and collective autonomy, as well as protecting vulnerable young people, paying particular attention to the impact of their intersectional position and multiple marginalising factors at play. It seeks to define exorcism and emphasise the very diverse settings in which it arises within twenty-first-century England and Wales. It examines proposals being made for a blanket prohibition in relation to children, considering both the desirability and viability of a ban. It also highlights that exorcism is not the only context in which religious minors will find themselves in a position of multiple marginalisation, and explores what debates in this area might reveal about the wider operation of Article 9 and the ECHR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-68
JournalInternational Journal of Law in Context
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2022


  • exorcism
  • children's rights
  • religion
  • safeguarding
  • minorities


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