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NCJ Number: 236368 Find in a Library
Title: Child Witch Hunts in Contemporary Ghana
Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect  Volume:35  Issue:9  Dated:September 2011  Pages:741-752
Author(s): Mensah Adinkrah
Date Published: 2011
Page Count: 12
Type: Case Study
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This case study of the persecution of child witches in Ghana examines the nature and patterns of witch hunts against children in the West African nation.
Abstract: In recent years, hundreds of children have been killed, maimed and abandoned across Africa based on individual and village-level accusations of witchcraft. The children who have been branded ranged in age from 1 month old to 17 years old. They were primarily from poor backgrounds and lived in rural areas of the country. Accusations of witchcraft and witch assaults were made by family members. This was often done through the encouragement of, or in concert with Christian clergymen and fetish priests. Accused witches have been physically brutalized, tortured, and neglected; and in two cases, murdered. For school-aged children, imputations of witchcraft contributed to stigmatization in both the community and at school, resulting in dropping out. The most frequent claim against the child was that he/she had used witchcraft in causing the death or illness of family members or someone in the community. Another reason was suspicion that the child was responsible for financial losses and difficulties. In order to reduce the incidence of such child abuse, there must be increased advocacy and protections for the children, and laws against child abuse must be enacted and enforced. There are no reliable national data on child abuse related to witchcraft accusations in Ghana. The current study relied on 13 cases of child witch hunts that were reported in the local media from 1994 through 2009. Case summaries were constructed for each incident in order to help identify the socio-demographic characteristics of assailants and victims, victim-offender relationships, the methods of attacks, the spatial characteristics, and the motivations for the attacks. 71 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Child abuse causes; Child abuse fatalities; Child abuse prevention; Foreign criminal justice research; Ghana
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