In this age of intellectual progress and technological advancement, strange beliefs are still rife, and misfortunes are blamed on witches in many societies. In the past, the avowed witches were the aged. Lately, focus has shifted to vulnerable and defenseless children who have become victims of witchcraft stigmatization and abuse. In Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria, hundreds of children have been labeled as witches and thus subjected to series of violations that have left them physically and verbally abused, psychologically traumatized and sexually molested. Studies on child abuse have paid greater attention to child labour, child trafficking and sexual molestation but the labeling of children as witches has scarcely been conceived as a form of abuse and examined in scholastic (particularly in anthropological victimological) enquiry. This paper examines why children rather than adults have become the targets of such abuse in Akwa-Ibom State. Data were collected from primary and secondary sources. Demonological and labeling theories were adopted as theoretical frameworks and narrative analysis employed. Findings revealed ‘intimate others’ as perpetuators of these heinous acts. It showed capital accumulation as the underlining reason why children are converted into objects of wealth that could be easily exploited by all stakeholders. It also revealed the roles of the NGOs in reuniting families and restoring order in the society. The paper poised that witchcraft labeling, and violence meted to children is a serious indictment, contradicting moral expectation of parents as care givers. It recommends that existing laws and regulations on child rights should be implemented to protect the rights of children.
Key words: Witchcraft, exploitation, labelling, violence, abandonment.
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