There are around 50,000 children being held in churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused of witchcraft, a BBC film team has discovered.
Branded a Witch shows Kevani Kanda exploring the secretive world of faith-based child abuse, where children are physically assaulted because a church leader believes they possess “kindoki” or magic powers.
The documentary explores the increase in the number of children abused and murdered by relatives in the name of driving out demons.
Kanda, who was born in the DRC, looks to establish how ancient traditions have resulted in children being singled out for abuse.
Children are branded witches or possessed as a result of ignorance for normal medical or mental illnesses. In some cases, it almost seems random as a Pastor may just see a “spirit” in a child. We’ve seen the case of Kristy Bamu, a teen murdered by abusive relatives in the name of witchcraft. And we see the most innocent as victims of a hyped belief in demons that can be eradicated by violent exorcisms. This is modern times. But not everywhere.
Exposure about witchcraft allegations and abuse in Africa has been gaining significantly more attention in the past few years. But what is being done about it? We can raise awareness forever but unless a change comes, people continue to suffer because the practice of abuse is still condoned.