Girl dies after being caned during 'exorcism' in Sri Lanka

Nine-year-old girl is beaten to death during ‘exorcism’ carried out by her mother and another woman in Sri Lanka

  • Girl was beaten to death during a ritual to drive away an evil spirit, police said  
  • The woman performing the ritual and the girl’s mother have been arrested 
  • The mother believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon, police said 

A nine-year-old girl has been beaten to death during an exorcism carried out in Sri Lanka.  

Police said Monday they have arrested two people in connection with the death of the girl who was repeatedly beaten during a ritual they believed would drive away an evil spirit.

The two suspects – the woman performing the exorcism and the girl’s mother – were to appear in court Monday to hear charges over the girl’s death, which occurred over the weekend in Delgoda, a small town about 25 miles (40km) northeast of the capital Colombo.

Sri Lankan magistrate Wasantha Ramanayake, right and police officers inspect outside a house where a nine year old girl was canned to death in Delgoda, Sri Lanka, Sunday

According to police spokesperson Ajith Rohana, the mother believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon and took her to the home of the exorcist so a ritual could be performed to drive the spirit away.

Rohana said the exorcist first put oil on the girl and then began to repeatedly hit her with a cane. 

When the girl lost consciousness, she was taken to a hospital, where she died. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

The woman who performed the ritual on the girl was known in the area for offering such services in recent months and police were investigating whether anyone else had been abused, Rohana said.

Rohana urged the public to be careful about such services as the girl was not the first to die during such a ritual.

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