United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Topic: Child Witches in Sub-Saharan Africa
Due to prejudices and longstanding superstitions in Africa, many innocent children are assumed to be witches, and as a result they face discrimination, abuse, and abandonment by their families or communities. Accusations of witchcraft are increasingly prevalent in times of distress when frightened citizens look for scapegoats. Disease outbreaks, ecological changes, regional conflicts, or other hardships serve as catalysts for witch hunts. Traditional beliefs hold that some people have the power to cause negative changes, and children are easy targets for blame. Under enough scrutiny, nearly any child could be found guilty, since any slight sign or action could be seen as a symptom of possessing an evil spirit. These unlucky children are taken to the streets, where they are exploited and further targeted as they fend themselves. Others face extreme bodily harm or death as punishment for their perceived connection to supernatural forces.