Children Accused of Witchcraft
Addressing the issue of witchcraft accusations against children
When something goes wrong – a death, the loss of a job, even a bad exam result – a community will often ask who is to blame. When the answer is not immediately obvious, witchcraftÂ isÂ commonlyÂ identified as the cause. And the finger is often pointed at aÂ child.
The accused child may then be subjected to an intenselyÂ painful and traumatic ‘deliverance’, involving starvation, beatings, burns orÂ poisoning.Â Even after that, the family often throws their child out of their home, to rid themselves of the supposed ‘witchcraft’. All of this is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, but there are reported cases all over the world, including in the UK.
It is thought that tens of thousands of innocent children have been accused of witchcraft and abused, stigmatised and even killed because of it.Â For example,Â a Human Rights Watch report found that about 70% of street children in Kinshasa, DRC, had been accused of witchcraft before becoming homeless. Many of the children supported by our Congolese partners, EPED and LVLE, have faced such allegations.
Itâ€™s for children like these that Stop Child Witch Accusations (SCWA) was formed in 2012. The coalition, of which BCT is a founder member, was set up to raise awareness of the abuse and draw together other key players â€“ from churches to childcare organisations â€“ to tackle it. By supporting churches, arranging action forums on the issue, and producing training resources to help community leaders respond to the issue,Â SCWA isÂ seeingÂ attitudes change towardsÂ children accused of witchcraft.Â Vulnerable childrenÂ are being treated better. Things are changing.
Will you stand with us in this vital campaign? Sign up to and endorse SCWAâ€™s Vision Paper here.