Been meaning to write something up about the general phenomenon for weeks, but a news story today kind of puts it front and centre:
Police in south-east Nigeria have arrested a man who claimed to have killed 110 child "witches".
See, this isn’t a cute funny story for silly season, and it’s not even "weird" in the way that gets it passed around the internet for lulz. What it is, is this:
Belief in witchcraft is strong across the country but a fear of child witches has become widespread in Akwa Ibom State since 1990s. Now children are blamed for all kinds of misfortune that befalls their families. They are abandoned or sold to child traffickers who then indenture them as house-workers in other parts of Nigeria or into prostitution. Others are violently exorcised to rid the child of the "demons".
Exorcism victims seen by CRARN in the past include a child who had nails driven into her head.
Earlier this week Mr Ikpe-Itauma said a six-year-old child was brought to their rescue centre after clambering out of a fast-flowing river. "The boy’s uncle was experiencing painful swelling in his legs," Mr Ikpe-Itauma told the BBC. "He concluded the child was a witch and had placed a curse on him, so he took him on his bicycle to the river and threw him in."