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Monday, March 22, 2010

Child Sorcery

Now, child sorcery is a growing problem in the DR Congo. As The OddBlog continues to report, the Congo is one of the areas in the world where claims of witchcraft are not only taken seriously, but often lead to murder. Of course, the Congo is also one of the pockets of the modern world in which proclaimed forms of "witchcraft" or "sorcery" is still practiced; this is one of the places where albinos are dismembered so their body parts can be used in bizarre rituals.

Activist spokespersons say there is no sense of community or family in the Congo, which makes it easy for the disenfranchised to single-out those with few or no rights. In 2008, some 100 cases of "child sorcery" were reported; in 2009, that number grew to 450. Unicef's Alessandra Dentice believes this can be explained by a growing awareness of the situation in the area, but also knows how serious such allegations can be - many accused "child sorcerers" are burnt, exiled, or killed.

Many charities have taken-in children found abandoned on streets and in the wilderness, cast aside by family members, neighbors, and friends because of something as simple as a family member having fallen ill. One child was accused of sorcery after he and a friend saw a zombie movie and began play-acting one of the scenes. The other child ran away and spread the rumor that his young friend was actually a sorcerer. The young movie-goer was forced into exile to avoid death by burning. These orphans are threatened, not only by life on the streets without supervision, but by stoning and attacks from other villagers.

Even though it is now illegal to accuse children of witchcraft, the law is not enforced. Many priests, local authorities, and even government officials not only believe in sorcery, but force the accused into "confessions" through intimidation, trickery, and outright violence. Yes, these are, of course, Christians.

The law took activists eight years to get on the books, but it has not stopped the accusations. Activists say it is helping, though. They hope their media and word-of-mouth campaigns bring serious, and long-lasting, change to the region.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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