Children Accused and Abused

Once the reserve of elderly women, witchcraft accusations in the Niger Delta shifted to children in the 1990s. Accused children have been forced to drink cement, poisoned and burned alive, Marc Ellison reports.

By 2008, estimates show 15,000 children had been branded in 2 states.

Nigerian law bars witchcraft accusations. The country’s Child Rights Act is designed to protect children from emotional torture—but states have considerable leeway in enacting it. Only Akwa Ibom state specifically bars abuse of alleged child witches, and even there witch branding persists. Poorly-funded police and reluctance to provide evidence makes prosecuting a challenge: “Often we have to push for investigations,” says lawyer James Ibor.

Pulitzer Center/BBC

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