Sorcery-linked infanticides persist
In northern Benin a baby born with a tooth, in silence or feet first
is likely to be killed out of fear that the infant is cursed,
according to local NGOs. Despite efforts to stamp out sorcery-linked
infanticides, the practice persists.
Mohamed Alidou with the Association for the Protection of
Unfortunate Children (APEM) told IRIN that customs and ignorance
about childbirth lead people to label some babies as cursed
“abnormalities” who must be destroyed immediately - by
throat-slitting, poisoning or drowning, or slowly through
abandonment and starvation. “Whatever the method, the goal is always
the same: the physical elimination of the child,” said Alidou.
Akpovi said family members secretly decide whether a newborn should
be sentenced to death.
Some 60 percent of children who are judged “abnormal” are killed,
according to the Ministry of Family’s director Nicolas Biaou, who
oversees the northern regions of Borgou and Alibori - two heavily
- Fears of witchcraft leads to widespread infanticide in remote
Unless a baby is born head first and face upwards, many
communities in northern Benin believe the child is a witch or
sorcerer. And tradition demands that the infant must be killed.
July 18, 2005