By Valentine Iwenwanne
Catholic Information Service
UYO, Nigeria — Three years after taking in 2-year-old Inimffon Uwamobong and her youthful brother, Sister Matylda Iyang lastly heard from the mom who had deserted them.
“Their mom got here again and informed me that she (Inimffon) and her youthful sibling are witches, asking me to throw them out of the convent,” stated Sister Iyang, who oversees the Mom Charles Walker Kids Residence on the Handmaids of the Holy Youngster Jesus convent.
Such an accusation is just not new to Sister Iyang.
Since opening the house in 2007, Sister Iyang has cared for dozens of malnourished and homeless kids from the streets of Uyo; a lot of them had household who believed they have been witches.
The Uwamobong siblings grew to become nicely and have been in a position to enroll in class, however Sister Iyang and different social service suppliers are confronted with related wants.
Well being care and social employees say mother and father, guardians and non secular leaders model kids as witches for various causes. Kids topic to such accusations are sometimes abused, deserted, trafficked and even murdered, in line with UNICEF and Human Rights Watch.
All through Africa, a witch is culturally understood to be the epitome of evil and the reason for misfortune, illness and loss of life. Consequently, the witch is probably the most hated particular person in African society and topic to punishment, torture and even loss of life.
There have been reviews of youngsters — labeled as witches — having had nails pushed into their heads and being compelled to drink cement, set on fireplace, scarred by acid, poisoned and even buried alive.
In Nigeria, some Christian pastors have included African witchcraft beliefs into their model of Christianity, leading to a marketing campaign of violence in opposition to younger individuals in some locales.
Residents of the state Akwa Ibom — together with members of the Ibibio, Annang and the Oro ethnic teams — imagine within the spiritual existence of spirits and witches.
Father Dominic Akpankpa, govt director of the Catholic Institute of Justice and Peace within the Diocese of Uyo, stated the existence of witchcraft is a metaphysical phenomenon from those that have no idea something about theology.
“In the event you declare that any person is a witch, you would need to show it,” he stated. He added that the majority of these accused of being witches could possibly be affected by psychological problems and “it’s our obligation to assist these individuals with counseling to return out of that state of affairs.”
Witch profiling and abandonment of youngsters are frequent on the streets of Akwa Ibom.
If a person remarries, Sister Iyang stated, the brand new spouse could also be illiberal of the kid’s perspective after being married to the widower, and as such, will throw the kid out of the home.
“To attain this, she would accuse her or him of being a witch,” Sister Iyang stated. “That’s why you’d discover many kids within the streets and while you ask them, they are going to say it’s their stepmother who drove them out of the home.”
She stated poverty and teenage being pregnant can also power kids into the road.
Nigeria’s legal code prohibits accusing, and even threatening to accuse, somebody of being a witch. The Youngster Rights Act of 2003 makes it a legal offense to topic any youngster to bodily or emotional torture or submit them to any inhuman or degrading remedy.
Akwa Ibom officers have included the Youngster Rights Act in an try to scale back youngster abuse. As well as, the state adopted a regulation in 2008 that makes witch profiling punishable by a jail time period of as much as 10 years.
Father Akpankpa stated criminalizing injustices towards kids was a step in the appropriate course.
“A number of kids have been labeled witches and victimized. We used to have child factories the place younger girls are saved; they offer beginning and their infants are taken and bought out for financial beneficial properties,” he informed CNS.