Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Children Accused of Witchcraft

In parts of Angola, Congo, and the Congo Republic, thousands of children are identified as witches and beaten, abused, or abandoned. Their families are shunning them because they are afraid of them. For example, in Angola “it is socially unacceptable to push a child out because of poverty, but not if they are possessed.” There are shelters for the shunned children, but the shelters are not in the best condition. What is surprising is that there are no shelters for girls. Moreover, since July, many children have been turned away from shelters because there are no rooms. What should be done for these children if their parents disown them and they have no one to turn to?

4 comments:

gchabrier said...

After reading this post I am still confused on what actions these children have taken to be aaccused of practicing witchcraft? But that aside, the answer is simple here, there must be actions taken by humanitarian groups in those countries to set up at least more shelters for these children. It is heartbreaking to see that, like many underdeveloped countries, girls are being severly discriminated against; it is even more heartbreaking to know that they are being judged on their gender even when it is known that they have no where else to go. I think that there must be an effort to set up shelters for these girls who have been not only shunned by their families, but turned away by shelters-places that are supposed to be a safe haven.

jolz said...

It is alarming to see how belief systems can drive people to violent acts against children. Although this rampant child ‘witch hunt’ in Angola is relatively new, one has to realize that superstition and folklore are an integral part of African culture. So much so that it was able to endure slavery and persist in regions like the Caribbean. From this it can be understood that changing beliefs of the people of Angola is going to be no easy task.
I think that the first practical move to remedy this matter is for the government to make it illegal to abandon children based on any circumstance. Enforcing the law may possibly deter parents from turning their children out on to the streets. Secondly, the government could offer small grants to families that have children thereby easing some of their economic burdens. If in fact families are concocting these stories of witches so that they would not have to take care of their children, then having government assistance may prevent this. For the children now who have already been abandoned by their parents, especially girls, immediate action in the form of housing needs to be provided. It is unacceptable for a nation, a government to allow this to happen to their children.
As previously stated, traditions and belief are often deep rooted and not easily altered. During times of adversity people may tend to revert to these beliefs as a coping mechanism. I think there is therefore no one method by which to modify their principles. It may take generations to coax people out of this mindset. What can be done for now is convincing these people of the rights of children and preservation of life.

Ennis Fonder said...

Hearing things like this are truly saddening. Children in "normal" kinds of situations that end with them on the streets is enough to cause a laundry list of mental disorders, let alone being accused of demonic possession as well. Regardless of where these kids end up (with the one exception being another stable home) they are going to have a very hard life in terms of social interaction. I think the parents of those poor kids should be punished for their actions.

Kat said...

What are these children doing to be called witches? They must be having similar symptoms to all be regarded as practicing witchcraft. What is so upsetting is that a culture can readily accuse thousands of children to be witches and turn them out...children! Ones that are supposed to be most pure, and most innocent! This strongly echoes the Salem Witch Trials. I can only think that these actions are out of fear by society-but against what? Not only does Africa have starvation, extreme poverty, genocide and war on their hands-now child witchcraft?