Topic A: ChildWitches in Sub-Saharan AfricaAccusations of witchcraft target thevulnerable: those who appear physically different, those who act differently,and others who are viewed as undesirable burdens on their caregiversfinancially, physically, or emotionally. Usually theseunfortunate kids fall in three categories:The first category, are typicallyorphans who have lost one or both natural parents and/or with a physicaldisability or illness. The second type of children are whose birth isconsidered abnormal, such as the “bad birth”. These includes premature birth, orpresentation may be in any variety of breech positions, or in the posterior,face?up position duringdelivery. Sometimes they also include twins as if any difference in their birthis making gods anger or has something to do with evil or occult powers. The thirdcategory concerns children with albinism because of the supposed magic powerscontained in parts of their bodies, including their organs, hair, skin andlimbs.
Talkingin numbers, any child could be accused of witchcraft because any smalldifference they present, might be a cause of preoccupation of something evilaround them in their community. We canfind multiple causes of the increasing growth of accusations of witchcraftagainst children. Anthropologists and social observers are unanimous inrecognizing the complexity of economic, political and social factors thatcontribute to such accusations. Once accused of witchcraft, childrenare abused and forced to confess their knowledge of witchcraft, sometimes andthen they end up killed during rituals. Furthermore, even if they survive aspiritual treatment which could be to swallow substances, fastening, our pouringpetrol in eyes or ears, as part of a ritual to take the witchcraft out of them,(Pastors charge for these “service”) the children will be rejected foreverwithin the family and community and sometimes also expelled. Even so, the riskfor being accused of witchcraft again remains high.
Many rejected children orchildren who are forced to flee from their communities live in the streets.Here, they are again victims of rights violations in the form of physicalviolence, prostitution and sexual violence.Thoughmost prevalent contemporarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, beliefs in sorcery areglobal; immigrants in other countries carry with them their cultural beliefs,including witchcraft superstitions.
Limited medical knowledge about illnessescombined with such a cultural belief system “predisposes people to look forscapegoats for who is responsible” (MacLean, 2014). The answer they find for allthese misfortunes is witchcraft. • II: CountryPolicy – Sweden is aware and interested in all human being wellness. So, thissituation seems to us as a direct attack to human rights, mostly in children.
We know there aredifferent ONG´s that are working directly in this issue such as The Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) that is a charityorganization, that has the mission “reduce numbers of street and abandonedchildren, to stop children being “branded” such as as witches and wizards, andprevents to prevent children being killed for these reasons, and to facilitatethe rehabilitation of abused children.” CRARN has made many movements toward achievingthese goals using measuring as (PACT) (Preventing the Abandonment of Children Today)campaign, which is a program that focuses on children accused of witchcraft andavoiding the abandonment. There is another charity, Nigeria called SteppingStones, who is building shelter for these abandoned children and works with AiwaIbom and CRARN.The shelter is giving a full service as education, medical treatments,food and has successfully reunited 32 families with their children between 2003and 2009 The UK gave support to this program which purpose is to prepare childrenfor a sustainable future.
This kind of efforts should be duplicated as a bestpractice in the resolutions coming out of this committee. heir efficacy servesas an example to be followed in the current day.On another hand the main effort isnot to change the believe in witchcraft, it is to protect children fromviolence and abuse, most of these methods have been proven in other cases,which are negotiating with families, finding allies in local churches,providing services to vulnerable children and enforcing law. Strengthen thestructure of the family. We know thatlaws act Unfortunately against children accused for witchcraft, instead ofbeing for their accusators. We completelybackup some countries had tried to put laws against accusations.
For example,in 2012 at Aiwa Ibom, in Nigeria, they realized the annual International Symposiumof PACT (Preventing the Abandonment of Children Today), they did a great mediacoverage to get more people know about it. The government issued a law thatpunishes people who accuses witchcraft (DeFraia, 2012), also this law addressesthe arrest of parents who abandoned children for witchcraft. This law was tosend the message that the police in Nigeria would no longer be lax in theirapproach to child abuse. Another chapter occurred in January 2009, the Democratic Republic of theCongo, issued the Child Protection Law. Congo also is a signatory the AfricanCharter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, that states that children areprotected by law from any violence or abuse. This law says that accusing achild of sorcery or witchcraft is punishable from one to three years of penal servitude.This law has the weakness that is not well known.
UNICEF goal is to work with as many people involved as it can such as CRARN,authorities, society, NGOs, members of the private sector, and other concernedentities to count the impact this accusation of witchcraft have had in children.UNICEF hascalled governments to integrate children into their communities, throughprograms and health care services, It is a purpose of the EU system of the Committee on the Rights of the Childand the NGO´s to take special care to this issue, that affects Huma Rights inAfrica, although we have not idea of the real magnitude of the problem. . • III.Proposed Solutions – We don´t want to deny their believes, the violencethat a kid has to go through after these accusations deserves greater attentionfrom our governments. Local and international as well as the non?governmental organizations (NGOs)Inaddition, awareness-raising about child abuse, engagement and dialogue withchurches, communities, politicians, and traditional and religious leaders is alsonecessary to counter the negative consequences of beliefs in witchcraft and toprovide a better understanding of children’s rights (DeFraia, 2012) (UNICEF,2010). TO build a dialogue with the community can help reduce these acts.
The increasedglobal awareness of the problem will eventually lead to more initiatives toassist victims. In the meantime, awareness and prevention campaigns,conferences and theological education with support of religious leaders and politicians,human rights organizations should be addressedFurther solutions:Prohibit by law the exorcism out of government criteria, this means thatgovernment would be the only authorized to practice an exorcism (independentlyof their believes) this will help educate the family of accusator and in casethey still ask for a solution, government will be encharged of not harming thekid.Develop mechanisms and criteria to determine the best interest ofchildren about temporary placement, family reintegration and permanencyplanning. If any pastors charges for an exorcism or practices the exorcism hewould be in prison.Also To strengthen vulnerable families with social protection, providingthem with access to basic health and education services.
To reduce poverty and any economic factor that can induce children to beappointed as witchcraft. The increase of support services for abandonedchildren they should not be isolated or have the stigma because of anyaccusation of witchcraft on their backs, build safe spaces for them to besheltered and recovered and eventually reintegrate them to society.Develop reintegration strategies that include an anti?stigma component. Work with families and communities to fight stigmatization and ensurethat children can return home in safety. Promote the role of healthprofessionals in protecting children accused of witchcraft. Assess risksassociated with the children’s return to their family and community.Access and quality of health services. Improve the capacities of healthworkers and the availability and quality of health services to reduce the beliefin witchcraft as a cause of illness.
Provide public health education on themost common diseases, such as malaria, AIDS, cancer and diabetes. Promotedeliveries in hospitals or health centers. Promote access to the legal systemfor children accused of witchcraft Laws must be changed to decriminalize witchcraft in this way childrenwon´t be accused and he will not have consequences with law. Create laws thatstart prosecuting people that harm or abuse children that includes authorities,religious leaders and healers. The creation of a legal system to protect thesechildren.To consider as overall legal reformto allow legal access for children accused of witchcraft to the legalprotection when been accused of witchcraft.
Some actions to be considered toimprove access to justice for children accused of witchcraft are:Allow a legal reform todecriminalize witchcraft, emphasize the prosecution of persons criminalizingthem and give resources for special protection to these children in contactwith the law. Laws allowing the prosecution of persons who accuse, and harmchildren, including religious leaders and traditional healers and other “authorities”involved in practices hostiles for the children, will allow for a strongerresponse by the legal system, along with specific campaigns to change the lawgoverning witchcraft, reform efforts should also promote child friendly justicesystems that are in line with international standards. Any infraction should bepunished through official legal proceedingsthe Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EuropeanUnion became directly binding on all EU Institutions and Member States. Article24 of the Charter explicitly deals with the rights of the child and states: 1. Children will have the right to protection and care if necessary to meettheir rights. They may express themselves freely. Their views will be consideredno matter their age and maturity. 2.
all actions concerning children, no matter public authorities or privateinstitutions, must consider the child’s best interests at first.3. Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis apersonal relationship and direct contact with both his/her parents, unless thatis contrary to his or her interests.