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Child-witches of Kinshasa


We have already presented Gwenn Dubourthoumieu’s Mobutu palaces. Here is one of her latest series on the children of Kinshasa. It received special mention from the jury of the Prix Roger Pic 2011, and was awarded the Investigative Reporting Prize at the European Festival of Journalism / Scoop Grand Lille 2011.

Between 20 000 and 50 000 children live in the streets of Kinshasa. Organized in gangs, they get by, sometimes thanks to theft or prostitution. According to Médecins du Monde, more than a third of them were chased away from their home in the pretext that they were child-witches and responsible of all the troubles of the family (death, unemployment, disease, etc.). The immense majority of the people living in Kinshasa are persuaded by the truthfulness of this curse. More than one hundred new “child-witches” are so discovered every month and thrown out in the streets.

The faith in witchcraft is profoundly rooted in the Congolese culture, but the phenomenon, which consists in abandoning children by accusing them of witchcraft, took a notorious scale only since the end of 1990s.

In this immense overpopulated shanty town that is Kinshasa, where 95 % of the population get by below the poverty line, the children are unproductive mouths to feed.

Caroline Six

Mention spéciale du Jury, Prix Scam Roger Pic 2011
Prix de l’enquête, festival européen du journalisme / Scoop Grand Lille 2011

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