The number of children accused of witchcraft in Africa is skyrocketing, capturing the attention of the international community. Immediate family members, relatives, or family friends often accuse children of witchcraft if hardship, murder, or a sudden disease occurs. The accusers usually throw the children out of the home and community. As a result, they become street children. For others who remain, they endure torturous exorcisms which often leads to death.
Recently, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a neighbor accused a sixteen-year-old girl of witchcraft when his son fell ill and died after her visitation. Because this practice is so common and accepted in most communities, perpetrators are not arrested for these abuses nor for the deaths of children tormented during exorcisms. Fortunately, there are shelters helping street children by offering protection and providing rehabilitation services. Unfortunately, child witch-hunts and exorcisms continue. There is ongoing research about this growing problem in certain African countries.
Social awareness and donations cannot be the only resolutions to end child witch-hunting. Laws must be put in place to protect children-ending a culture of impunity. Lastly, shelters should be fully supported by the government so that children can remain until adult age while receiving an education/learning a trade.
Gael, M. (2018, March 16) The Agony of Congo’s ‘child witches’. Africanews, Retrieved from http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/16/the-agony-of-congo-s-child-witches//
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Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS
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