The occurence of witch-hunts in Sub-Saharan Africa is not a new story, but the problem is reportedly “on the rise”, and this is partly due to religion, poverty, and sheer hatred. Below are 7 really sad facts about Africa’s witch children.
1. Witchcraft accusation in Africa is a very serious matter as the witch is culturally understood to be the embodiment of evil and the cause of all diseases, untimely deaths, broken homes, problems at work, poverty, pain and sickness. Consequently, the witch is the most hated person in a typical African society. In lieu of this it comes as no surprise to see that Children and babies branded as witches are being abused, abandoned and depending on the community, they are sometimes burnt.
2. Children accused of witchcraft are often subjected to violent exorcism rituals by some diabolic pastors who combine Christianity with African dark beliefs. Such exorcism may include incarceration, starvation, isolation, the use of holy water, flogging etc. And when the so called exorcism doesn’t work, the accused child is expelled from the community.
3. The reinforced beliefs about witchcraft are often propagated by men of God and traditional healers solely for financial gain. They make money out of the fear by volunteering to provide costly exorcism services for the parents of the so called witch child.
4. According to studies carried out by Unicef in Angola, congo and Nigeria, children who are most likely to be labeled as witches are those from single parents, divorced parents, and generally dysfunctional families.
5. Children accused of witchcraft are of two categories
- Kids who have lost all or one parent, – they are often accused of killing their parents- children showing unusual behaviors like aggressiveness, stealing etc.
- Children whose birth are considered abnormal such as the mingi children of Ethiopia.
6. According to a research conducted by safechildafrica.org, 80% of children labeled as witches in Africa usually end up been abandoned by their parents while those that weren’t abandoned run away anyway because of the disgrace attached to the stigma .
7. Though exact figures are hard to come by, it is estimated that in Africa alone there are well over 500, 000 children who had been labeled witches and abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves.