Posts by whrin_admin

Jean La Fontaine: The Devil’s Children: From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft: New Allegations that Affect Children

A number of cases of serious child abuse have resulted from beliefs that children may be possessed by evil spirits and may then be given the power to bewitch others. Misfortune, failure, illness and even death may be blamed on them. The ‘cure’, nowadays called deliverance rather than exorcism, is to expel the spirits, sometimes by violent means.

This book draws together contributions on aspects of possession and witchcraft from leading academics and expert practitioners in the field. It has been put together following conferences held by Inform, a charity that provides accurate information on new religions as a public service. There is no comparable information publicly available; this book is the first of its kind. Eileen Barker, founder of Inform, introduces the subject and Inform’s Deputy Director goes on to detail the requests the charity has answered in recent years on the subject of children, possession and witchcraft. This book offers an invaluable resource for readers, whether academic or practitioner – particularly those in the fields of the safeguarding of children, and their education, health and general welfare.

Find out more about the book here 

UN: Children Accused of Witchcraft: An anthropological study of contemporary practices in Africa – UNICEF

This study addresses the issue of children who are victims of violence and mistreatment due to local beliefs, representations and practices, in particular, relating to witchcraft. While the harmful consequences of these beliefs have been publicised internationally, their origins often remain unclear. The objective of the present document, therefore, is to reveal and analyze the diversity and
complexity of these phenomena ‐ often falsely associated with “African tradition” ‐ related to beliefs in witchcraft and the “mystical” world. Using examples from sub‐Saharan Africa, the study aims to clarify the basis for certain social practices that are wholly or partially misunderstood by western observers. See full report here.

DRC: “Child witches”, child soldiers, child poverty and violence: Street children in crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Street Children

The APPG found that unemployment and lack of income generating opportunities have stretched the capacities of households to function as viable economic units. Divorce is increasingly common. Many children find themselves in the care of their extended family. But the extended family system is increasingly strained and unable to bare this burden and so many children end up working on the streets. Those children with step-parents are often marginalised in order to create the social and economic space to
ensure support for step-brothers and sisters. Increasingly, HIV/AIDS will result in the death of both parents, leaving children with the extended family, which is rarely able to care for them.
A lack of access to education and confined social and political space for women limits their capacity to generate income and protect their children. Within this frame, fetish pastors have established thousands of private churches throughout the major cities. These fetish pastors regularly accuse children, whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS, of witchcraft. Fees will be paid for an exorcism that will often see the child tortured (beatings, mutilation and starvation) by the fetish pastor. In part, this is enabled by a widespread
and deep-seated belief in witchcraft, which makes carers vulnerable to exploitation by fetish pastors. The accusation of sorcery and witchcraft is the single largest factor resulting in children being pushed out of their families onto the streets. Click here for full report.

UK: Vulnerability and Control of African Child Victims of Trafficking – ECPAT

There are various factors that make children vulnerable to being trafficked. These include, amongst other things, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, lack of education and social exclusion. This paper highlights the experience of the vulnerability and control of African children being trafficked to the UK. In particular, it looks at children being trafficked once they have been labelled a ‘child witch’. This paper also looks at specific control mechanisms used by traffickers to maintain children’s dependence and prevent their escape. Please click here for more details.

 

 

UN: Breaking the spell: responding to witchcraft accusations against children – UNHCR

Witchcraft allegations against children have become the focus of increased international attention in recent years. Recent reports by Phillip Alston, Gary Foxcroft, Jill  Schnoebelen and Alexandra Cimpric representing respectively, the United Nations,  Stepping Stones Nigeria, UNHCR and UNICEF have all highlighted increasing concerns regarding violence and abuse towards children accused of witchcraft. Accusations of witchcraft cause direct violations of children‟s rights. Children are isolated or even rejected from their family and community, end up living on the streets, become victims of different forms of trafficking, suffer from physical and mental health problems and trauma due to the abuses they have experienced (AFRUCA, 2009). Already vulnerable children become even more vulnerable as a result of witchcraft accusations. Cases of children being harmed, abused or killed due to accusations of being a witch or for the purpose of witchcraft have been documented in many countries around the world, though the vast majority of cases investigated to date have been  African. This paper focuses on African case studies. Please click here for full paper.

UN: Witchcraft allegations, refugee protection and human rights: a review of the evidence – UNHCR

Accused witches have been executed by hanging, drowning and burning at the stake throughout history. The persecution of accused witches continues today in communities around the globe.  Both men and women are at risk of accusation and over the past decade children are increasingly  falling victim to such allegations. Startling accounts of torture, starvation, abandonment and  death have been documented. Protection concerns can arise at home and in the context of forced  displacement or voluntary migration. Witchcraft accusations, the associated risk of persecution, the cycle of displacement, and what this means for those in the refugee field are the focus of this  UNHCR paper. Please click here for full paper.

UK: What is Witchcraft Abuse? Africans Unite against Child Abuse (AFRUCA)

AFRUCA has produced the “Safeguarding African Children in the UK” series of publications to highlight different safeguarding issues and to assist members of the African community in the UK to know more about different forms of child abuse and how to identify the signs so that children can be safe and be better protected. The “What is Witchcraft Abuse?” publication is one in the series.

Please click here to see the report.

 

DRC: The Invention of Child Witches in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Save the Children

This report summarises Save the Children’s knowledge on the issue of children accused of witchcraft  in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The information and analyses presented are all drawn from various research studies as well as from the experience their programme has gained through the reunification and reintegration of almost 2,000 children in the  cities of Kinshasa and Mbuyi-Mayi.
The greatest source of information, however, was  Save the Children’s direct work with pastors from the revivalist churches, communities and parents who have accused their children of witchcraft. Please click here for the full report.

 

 

South Africa: Police to Establish Task Teams to Investigate Occult Crimes

EASTERN Cape police have appointed three detectives to specialise in occult-related crime as part of a national drive by the SAPS to crack down on muti murders and other crimes that may occur during the practising of satanism, witchcraft and even vampirism. See here for more information.

UK: Possession, Jinn and Britain’s backstreet exorcists

UK health and social workers and those in the criminal justice system are increasingly having to understand belief in spiritual possession among ethnic minorities, with new research highlighting a particular issue with some sections of the British Asian community blaming mental health problems on the supernatural. See BBC report here