Government Reports: Exorcism

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.