© 2000 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 pedophiles.
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 pedophile.
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.
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 fulfill 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.
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 that often binds the victim to the torturer, who is now all powerful in the victim's life.
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 to 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 pedophiles 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 behavior. 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 behavior.
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.