As the United Nations announces it’s gradual withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of Congo today despite the growing rebel forces, a serious human rights issue gets the green light.
As of May 2013, 50,ooo children were accused of witchcraft. The child sorcerers are said to be possessed by dark powers, causing them to strangle parents in their sleep, eat the hearts of their siblings, and spread HIV and polio.
In reality, the ‘child sorcerer’ is anything but. Typically, the consist of children born with an unusual birthmark or a poor family. 70% of street kids in the DR Congo claim to be accused of witchcraft. According to the UNICEF report Children Accused of Witchcraft, the children are roaming the streets of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi most.
Dumping a child on the street or a church is a quick fix for the increasingly dire poverty of Congolese citizens. The constitution prohibits the abandonment of children accused of sorcery under a punishment of imprisonment, but the lack of implementation encourages families to do so.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is 80% Christian, and a surge in eglises de reveil, or revival churches has played a hand in an increase of exorcisms. According to the Human Rights Watch Report, some church leaders and community members also beat, starve, and abandon children accused of witchcraft.
If the UN can’t be bothered to sustain a peacekeeping mission in opposition to the rebel forces, what will inspire them to stop the abuse and murder of children?