Rise in African children accused of witchcraft

An increasing number of children are being accused of witchcraft in parts of Africa, the UN children’s agency says. Orphans, street children, albinos and the disabled are most at risk.

A new Unicef report warns that children accused of being witches – some as young as eight – have been been burned, beaten and even killed as punishment.

The belief that a child could be a witch is a relatively modern development, researchers say. Until 10-20 years ago, it was women and the elderly who tended to be accused.

The agency says the rise in vulnerable children being abused in this way is linked to greater urbanisation in the continent and disruption caused by war…

The agency said there was little it could do about the belief in witchcraft itself, and that it was not trying to eradicate the practice. But it said violence against children was wrong, and that it would do everything it could to stop it…

It is reported that some evangelical preachers have added to the problem by charging large sums for exorcisms. One was recently arrested in Nigeria after charging more than $250 for each procedure.

Anyone surprised?

I don’t mean just about the ignorance of believing in child witches. The opportunist preachers hustling families for exorcising the demons. What greedy bastards.

Do you wonder if this cruelty was helped or hindered by Christian missionaries.

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3 comments

  1. honorarynewfie

    Opportunists will always fill a niche.
    What is needed is to identify the “opportunity” that has opened up which causes the requirement to treat the children in this way.
    Why are the children suddenly being seen as witches ?
    Is that due to something the preachers are saying, or is it to do with something deeper within the population’s psyche ?

  2. Sex, Spirit & Soul Mates....Ivonne's Journey

    @ honorarynewfie..You pose some really good questions. “Othering” usually occurs in some kind of political context, where a scapegoat must be created to take the responsibility for the failure of a group in some way.

    Children are easy targets because they are helpless and voiceless.

    The idea of witches or people with supernatural powers already existed in the African religions prior to the arrival of Christian preachers, although it was Christian preachers who labeled native religious rites as black magic and witchcraft.

    The problem is not outside of Africa but I would say comes inherently from the pre-existing culture in conjunction with a poor economy.

  3. honorarynewfie

    A poor economy? I’m not sure that’s it. African economies are notoriously poor and have been for quite some time.
    If “the belief that a child could be a witch is a relatively modern development” then the reason behind it must be relatively modern too.
    “Greater urbanisation in the continent and disruption caused by war” seems a little simplistic but might be connected to it in some way.
    The increasing numbers of street orphans as a result of the wars would be a social problem but, again, translating that into them being seen as witches would need greater expertise than mine.
    There is obviously some form of “cleansing” going on, but what happens when there are no more of those groups of children?
    Will other sections of the societies then be “cleansed”?

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