Abuse of Child 'Witches' Burgeoning

Growing number of kids suspected of witchcraft worldwide
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 18, 2009 10:17 AM CDT
Pope Benedict XVI visits Angola, March 21, 2009. The pope appealed to Catholics to reach out to and convert believers in witchcraft who feel threatened by "spirits" and "evil powers" of sorcery.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Children dubbed “witches” are facing increasing abuse in Nigeria and elsewhere, advocates say. “They would take my clothes off, tie me up and beat me,” said a 14-year-old, whose grandfather concluded he was a “witch” 2 years ago when he cried at the threat of being beaten with a broom. “Nigerian witches are terrified of brooms,” the grandfather tells CNN.

“Children accused of witchcraft are often incarcerated in churches for weeks on end and beaten, starved, and tortured in order to extract a confession,” said a member of an advocacy group. Often, the children have conditions like learning disabilities or epilepsy. Some 15,000 kids are labeled witches in two Nigerian states, and “it is a growing issue worldwide, among not just African communities, but in countries such as Nepal,” said a UN worker.