Children who are accused of witchcraft. Children who are abused. Children who are discriminated, punished, beaten, tortured, mutilated, killed. The following story is again one which makes you shiver, like yesterday’s article. I read the article reproduced below with growing disbelief and disgust.
As with ritualistic crimes, superstition lies at the base of this evil. It saddens to read that these children are not protected by their parents, their families, their communities, not even by the State. The protection of the weak and the poor is an obligation of the State. In the DRC the central and regional authorities fail miserably (webmaster FVDK).
Witchcraft horror sees teen attacked and accused of sorcery by own family
Gabrielle’s life was turned upside down when she found herself at the centre of a chilling witchcraft craze sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Published: February 23, 2020
By: Daily Record UK – Stephen Stewart
Gabrielle is like any other bright teenager. She loves learning new things, chatting with pals and watching TV.
But her life has been turned upside down after she was accused of being a child witch – by her own family.
She is one of thousands of young children and teenagers at the centre of a new, chilling witchcraft craze sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This epidemic – reminiscent of the infamous 16th century European witch hunts – has seen girls as young as four burned to death.
The Sunday Mail recently travelled to the Central African nation with Scottish charity SCIAF to see their work helping female victims of sexual violence.
As revealed in our sister paper The Daily Record, armed factions illegally mine a mineral called Coltan – used in phones and electronic devices – to finance their atrocities, including gang rape and sexual slavery.
These mind-numbing levels of violence have plunged much of the country into the Dark Ages with economic and educational catastrophe triggering a related rise in beliefs in superstition and witchcraft.
Gabrielle is just one of a skyrocketing number of kids facing accusations of sorcery.
The 15-year-old said: “I felt like a princess when I was at school. I was first in my class and I was very proud of that.
“Then things went bad. I remember sleeping and my uncle came home and he started beating me around the head with a piece of wood.
“He beat me and beat me and beat me and then he took me to the hospital because he felt bad about what he had done.
“He felt pity and they told him at the hospital not to beat me because I might die. I do not want to stay at home any more because they plan to kill me or leave me to the bandits.
“People go into churches and say I am a witch. They say that it is because of me that they have death and misery in their family. I don’t know why they say these evil things and abuse me.”
SCIAF is helping to fund various projects in the Bukavu archdiocese to help women victims of sexual violence.
These projects often deal with other vulnerable people such as Gabrielle and other children accused of witchcraft.
Belief in witchcraft is widespread in Africa, according to the UN, but until recently, violent allegations were not usually aimed at children.
There are now alarming numbers of killings of children accused of being “sorcerers” and a growing phenomenon of witchcraft
accusations against children and adolescents.
The main power attributed to child witches is the ability to inflict harm from the invisible world to the visible.
This could consist of transmitting an illness to a relative who must be “sacrificed” with fellow witches.
Children are accused of causing diarrhoea, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS, and the fatal consequences that may follow.
They are also often suspected of bringing about general misfortune, poverty, unemployment, failure and bereavement.
Gabrielle’s dad Vincens – who is blind and battles ill health – was even one of her accusers.
Victims are now trying to rebuild their lives through SCIAF and local partners at the Centre Olame Bukavu which seeks to defend the human rights of women and girls.
Sciaf launches the WEE BOX Big Change appeal this week, which will help vulnerable women and girls.
Gabrielle now often feeds her father, 55, and helps him get around. He said: “I know now these were very bad things. When she was forced out of the home, she had to sleep outside.
“I was living in ignorance and believing in ignorant things. As a Christian, I can only ask for forgiveness. My whole family have went to Gabrielle and said, ‘Please forgive us for these bad things we did and the awful superstitions we believed in’.
“I was sad when she went away and lived outside. As a father, there are things you do through ignorance but you then regret your weakness and ignorance. I felt pity and regret and wanted to find her.
“Through this centre, I have seen how I went wrong. Now, if neighbours or someone else say things about my daughter, I don’t accept it as I can’t allow these things.”
Lisette, 14, is another victim of the witchcraft craze. She said: “I don’t like staying with my family. I suffer a lot when I stay there. I don’t feel well at home because they hit me and say bad things about me.
“If I try to do the dishes, they hit me and say, ‘Don’t touch those things because you will kill us’. They make me isolated and force me to stay outside. I want to be a nun to stop these things and make people live better lives.”
Captain Innocent Rutema Baguna is a police officer who has seen the horrors of the epidemic.
Dad-of-10 Innocent, 54, who became a police officer in 1998, said: “I have witnessed horrible things. One of the worst was when I saw a girl who was four and was accused of being a witch.
“She was burned alive as people had accused her and then put her in a house and then set it on fire. I can never forget that. I do my best to protect the children.
“It can be a dangerous job as you have to go to places to interview people where the rebels are very active.
“My work is a matter of sacrifice but I am an orphan, my mother died when I was only six.
“So, now that I am a father, it is very important that I do my best to protect and help the children. Our future depends on it.”
SCIAF’s chief executive Alistair Dutton has just returned from DR Congo.
He said: “The lives of thousands of poor, vulnerable women and girls are being destroyed by sexual violence and exploitation.
“They need our help. SCIAF and our partners are on the ground providing medical care, counselling, legal aid and support so they can recover and rebuild their lives.
“But the need is great. I’d ask everyone to please give what they can so we can do more to help women and girls in need.”
As the Sunday Mail team left, Gabrielle shyly handed us a drawing she had been working on.
Her poignant message reads: “May peace reign around the world but especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”